TWONISM Thoughts, Essays, and Poems on Life and Art May 10, 2005 â€“ October 8, 2016 By: Damon Freed
Damon Freed 1100 West 4th Street Sedalia MO, 65301, USA firstname.lastname@example.org www.damonfreed.com Chief Editors: Damon Freed and Timothy Johnson Chief Designers: Damon Freed and Alex Krivanek Production by Damon Freed Printed and bound by Lulu This book is typeset in Times New Roman. ©2017 Lulu All works and content by Damon Freed ©2017 Damon Freed, Sedalia, MO Front Cover by Damon Freed and Alex Krivanek Back Cover by Damon Freed and Alex Krivanek Printed in The United States of America First Edition Copyright ©2017 Damon Freed All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Damon Freed.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank most of all my silent and quiet support system on Facebook. Where I share most, if not all of my work. I would like to thank my family and friends as well. With love, Damon (Freedochip) Freed
A Pillar of Thought Soâ€ŚI believe the key to being smart is knowing when one is too smart. Like a cloud I am full of rain, pain, and beauty. All three happen according to awareness but I am a filter and siphon for thought in this world. No ideas unless given to me, no thought unless resonating. No longer must I act on my own volition, for I am acclimated. Seek me out and I will serve, push me away and I will learn. I have battled to get to this point of living. I have won beyond thinking of. I fight no more.
Contents Foreword –
Artistic Development –
Twonism Writings and Paintings on Canvas –
Visual Experience and Understanding –
Philosophical Experience and Understanding –
Religious Experience and Understanding –
Brief Thoughts and Essays – 22-64 • A Call to Arms • A Calling and a Message • A More Personal Account of the Nonobjective • A Note on Graduate School • A Struggle for Truth • A Victory • Abstraction • Agnes Martin • All for Beauty • An Apolitical Language • Art Moves in Circles • Balance II • Beauty and Painting: Sensation, Emotion, and Intellectuality • Beauty is Nonhierarchical • Can Art Teach? • Competition • Computer Design and the Manual Arts • Connoisseurship • Decisions • Empathy, Compassion, and the Artist • Family • Fear • Freedom for the Artist • Ideas & Beauty
• Impulse • Instincts • Instincts II • Justice • Leader • Light and Energy: Form is Born from a Primal State of Being • Master and Student • Maxim • Michelangelo and the Art of Illustration • Morale • Morale II • Nature • Necessity • Need • Nonrepresentational Painting • Not That Date • Obstacle and Void I • Obstacle and Void II • Obstacle and Void III • On Community Service • On Life and Art • On Making a Painting • On Power Divine • On The Origin of Expression • On the Origin of Inspiration • On the Power of Painting • On the Subversive Joy of Not Selling • On the Work of Ellsworth Kelly • Order of Perception • Painting in Two-Dimensions • Poem Versus Novel • Practice for your Absence • Process • Questioning the Sublime • Reassurance • Responding • Response to a Younger Artist • Ryman and Vermeer • Selfless • Skill and the Fine Arts • Small Steps • Spirit • Square Painting • Style
• Style II • Subject, Meaning, and Manner in Nonobjective Art • The Ancient Speaks of Mystery • The Artist and Collector • The Concern of Materials • The Concern of Materials II • The Contemporary Painter’s World • The Fundamentals • The Genius is a Medium • The Need for Aesthetics • The Nonobjective • The Six Dusts • Three Poles of Creation • Truth • Weakness and Strength • Fine Art: A Definition Poetic Experience and Understanding –
• Happiness • Honesty • Twonement • Spring Vine • Filial Piety • The Way is Broad • Thought on Painting to a Prospective Student • Realization, Being, and Oneness • Observational Poem • Followers • Where East Meets West There is No Division • On the Transmission of Ancient Ways • A Sober Mind • The Mind’s Eye • Balance • Material • Small Voices • Notes on the Art of Living • On a Saturday Morning • The Walls that Guide Me • The Grey • Understanding • A Song of Greyness
Twonism Works on Paper – 81-90 Conclusion –
Artist Bio –
Index of Images – 95-97
Foreword — The study of modern art history is enriched by the reading of statements, explanations, and manifestos penned by contemporary artists who are a part of that history. From Gleizes and Metzinger to the Futurists, from Malevich and Mondrian to Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, and Donald Judd, artists have offered singularly insightful commentary on their own artwork and the tendencies of their compatriots. To this tradition we may now add this compendium of pensées by the artist Damon Freed, Twonism (Thoughts, Essays, and Poems on Life and Art). Among the most interesting studio visits I have conducted during the past several years have been those paid to Damon Freed’s workspace in Sedalia, Missouri. Damon has presented an evolving array of canvases and works on paper during that time, work that has revealed a sustained and serious investigation of a specific genre of artistic practice—non-representational abstraction. There was a brief flirtation with the human figure, but Damon is primarily interested in nonobjective explorations of color systems and spatial relationships. At one point, his formal language suggested a coded vocabulary of signs and symbols that produced an almost-graspable syntax. More recently, a compositional grid has assumed central focus, with blocks of color positioned sequentially in strategic and taut formal balance. Over time, those solid chromatic squares have given way to a brushily painted lattice with superimposed dots and dashes of varied value and saturation, gestures that could be read as semaphoric if not for the artist’s intention of visual autonomy. Finally, there is Damon’s large tondo, The Mind’s Eye, an elegant rose-window of a composition, whose overlapping circles of color present a cool schematic logic that is complicated by an unexpected passage of dense hue that almost becomes a symbolic subject. The reasoning behind these various explorations is the subject of the five main chapters in Twonism. As the author states, his goal is to “further [one’s] understanding of my paintings and my life through my writings.” In “Visual Experience and Understanding,” Damon explores our perceptions of shape and color. He also describes the concept of “twonism,” a proposal concerning ambiguity in art, related in spirit to Barnett Newman’s idea of “onement.” The illusory nature of opposites is the subject of the chapter titled “Philosophical Experience and Understanding,” while spirituality and consciousness are discussed in “Religious Experience and Understanding.” Chapter four, “Brief Thoughts and Essays,” presents a compelling range of ideas on aesthetics and asceticism. Here, Damon shares with the reader opinions about the nature and processes of art and artists, and about the key notions of Beauty, Truth and Sensibility. The final chapter, “Poetic Experience and Understanding,” offers a number of prose poems on a range of subjects: on nature, on life and art, states of being, moral assertions. The poems are sometimes sweetly lyrical, but just as often they are enigmatic, cryptic, even occult. Twonism presents the considered thoughts of an artist who has been trained by the academy and by the example of his father, who is also an artist. Written in the decade or so since the end of his formal schooling, Twonism offers an analysis of Damon’s own paintings and paths for future work. His essays touch on art history and movements of the past; they parse quotations from such luminaries as Plato, Apollinaire, Emerson, and Ayn Rand; and they highlight hard-won experience through anecdotes, advice, and caveats . . . all in the service of our further understanding of art, life, and the gap in between. Thomas Piché Jr. Director, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art
Introduction — I would like to give you an example of what it means to me to experience enlightenment through another’s paintings. You stand before their art, surrounded by their paintings, engulfed in their wisdom and understanding, and are taken by their beauty as they stand apart from the world— as they stand apart from all that is doom, all that is destruction, all that brings one down. The paintings and writings are affirmation of enlightened moments and the connection to knowledge through another’s enlightened moments which brings one closer to happiness for a time. To appreciate my paintings and writing is to further understand who I am. You don’t have to like my etiquette in life, how I carry myself in the company of others, how aptly I perform at menial tasks, but you do need to appreciate my paintings and writings to understand who I am. At last, it is what I do and what painters do. Words fall short, but can help. Now, I don’t plan to stop speaking (that would be something!). I am bound to this effort of bringing my expression into this world that is representative of not just me, but of the many voices that have ever attempted to assert in painting and writing the respectable, fashionable, and good; that are different than those meaningless gestures caught up in money and the empty passions – whose voices are elevated above those voices that sing of beauty and truth, above those voices whose pure gestures bring light into this world. We are at war with one another in this world and it is my hope that my paintings and writings shed light on a better way—a way that does not inflict harm. What I would like to do now is to outline for you my thoughts. I have decided on five sections to further your understanding of my paintings and my life through my writings. These five sections begin with “Visual Experience and Understanding,” “Philosophical Experience and Understanding,” “Religious Experience and Understanding,” “Brief Thoughts and Essays,” and end with a final section titled “Poetic Experience and Understanding.” It has come to my attention of late that my style of text could be regarded or criticized as overly serious, cleverly unfashionable, and anti-academic to today’s audiences. I have no real response to this other than to say that the writing is both serious and attempts to sidestep the beaten path. (Although, I wish it was the thoroughfare on which others traveled more frequently.) It also has more to do with the way I live my life than it has to do with academic concerns. In my life, I have dug deep to find what I need for the painting and writing to be good. This is not to say too deep, but, it is to say it was necessary. This, I hope, reveals itself in both the paintings and the writings.
(1) Inner Chapter I: Unchanging, 2006-16, Oil, Flashe, and Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(2) Missouri: Final Version, 2008, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(3) Love, 2010, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(4) ME, 2010, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(5) Life Saver, 2010, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 21” x 21”
(6) Terminal Painting, 2012, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 63” x 63”
(7) Double Chroma, 2013, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(9) Symbol #11, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas, 21” x 21”
(10) Universe Diagram, 2014
(11) Obstacle And Void II, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(12) Apex, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
(13) Nonobjective #19, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 34” x 34”
(14) Nonobjective #32, 2015, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism Writings and Paintings on Canvas
Visual Experience and Understanding — The intangible reality and perception of seeing two different shapes or colors that appear and/or feel as one shape or color. Also, the experience of seeing one shape or color that appears and/or feels as two different shapes or colors. We see a film of color appear just above the surface of a painted color as if it were floating there, an illusion, akin I suppose to a hallucination. Yet, I hesitate to call this effect an illusion because it is materially perceived. Our eyes see it. A color is seen, one that may or may not have been intended, and that upon closer inspection is not actually the color of the surface. Also, two shapes in proximity may appear one larger than the other based on the proximity of different colored backgrounds and shapes. But the shapes are actually the same size. The shapes and colors are twone. Or, the shape and color is twone. This definition outlines the kindred visual experience and counterpart to our understanding of homonyms, homophones, and homographs. The written word, as linked to the spoken word, is also visual wherein this definition serves a broader context. Twonism is found in both the visual arts and the world at large, and I imagine it to exist within every sense-realm, be it sight, taste, smell, touch, or sound. —e.g., Two buildings in perspective appeared as one continuous building. —e.g., Two different colors side by side appeared as one color (vanishing boundary). —e.g., Two different colors against different colored backgrounds appeared as the same color (two colors appear as one). —e.g., The same color against two different colored backgrounds appeared as two different colors (one color appears as two). —e.g., A surface that appeared visually thick when it was materially thin or monochromatic when it was multicolored. —e.g., One man and his shadow appeared as two men standing side by side. —e.g., After having stared at one image for a period of time we then see an afterimage – a kindred image in which the color is reversed yet one where the configuration stays the same as the original, a kind of visual projection or visual memory of what we stared at. —e.g., Thinking works this way too, internally to one’s self and in conversation with another person. There is the original thought that manifests itself freely and internally and then there is the devil’s advocate point of view that often arises freely, internally, and in conversation that is connected to the original thought. One can see here that if we were to recognize in life that opposites do not exist there would be fewer internal battles and external arguments leading to war.
(15) Twonism, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Philosophical Experience and Understanding — The illusion of opposites: relativity, duality, and dichotomy as illusion. This is to say, true opposites do not exist. It is plain to see that relative thinking and opposition are illusory so long as we recognize our capacity for invention. Invention exists in relationship to nothing. This is why we respond to it with feelings of newness. As far as opposites go one precedes the other, therefore, relative thinking is bound to assumption and prediction. Invention is bound to surprise. To see beyond relationships of in and out, east and west and to see what cannot yet be seen or what will be seen is to manifest from within. Truth is always a surprise. Twonism refers to the process of life, one continuous process, every beginning ending and end beginning, a seamless transformation and process. What appears measurable is immeasurable and what appears in opposition is united. —e.g., Space and time are both mental constructs. Up, down, in, out, east and west are descriptive illusions of the core thought, space. Seconds, years, minutes, months, hours and days are descriptive illusions of the core thought, time. Space and time are illusions of the core thought—process. Process refers to the perpetual interchange and ambiguity between what is known and unknown in life. —e.g., One thing is proven by someone and then another person proves that thing to be wrong.
(16) Twonism I: The Psychology of Color, 2015-16, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
(17) Twonism I: The Psychology of Color Diagram, 2015-16
(18) Twonism II: Endurance, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Religious Experience and Understanding — God and the devil are the same. Each are different faces of the same coin acting to propel us in different ways, one toward good, and the other toward evil, and both help in awareness. I don’t regard them as separate entities, yet regard them as positive and negative forces in the world. I have seen the face of each in the world, the movements of each. Without them, we would have little sense of direction, no moral compass to see the light or the dark. The middle path—this is awareness and life. Therefore, we should not climb so high, nor fall so low. Become one with the two selves: the conscious and unconscious mind, the waking and the resting mind. See them as one and be like an insect doing: a butterfly pollinating, the moth giving its colors up to the sky. It is not this or that. Opposites give way to the center; a single medium grey cloud giving life to the world. They are like the clouds, the people, perfect in every way. From Isaiah 40:7 (KJV)—“Surely the people is grass.” (i.e., Treat all things similar, as you would yourself.) From Dōgen, “The Mountains and Waters Sutra”—“Mountains walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains walking even though it does not look the same as human walking.” (i.e., Empathize not only with one’s self and others, but with the entire universe.) From Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 5—“The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows. The shape changes but not the form.” (i.e., My paintings are like this; many changing shapes to carry and to emit the many nuances of a single soul.)
(19) Twonism III: Completeness of the Conscious and Unconscious Personalities, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 108” x 36”
(20) Twonism IV: Sensitive, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
(21) Twonism V: The Child, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, Flashe, and Paint Marker on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Brief Thoughts and Essays — A Call to Arms Living in a smartphone, fast food world of instant gratification—it can be disparaging to seek depth in things. It’s not the norm. Art exists in part to shed light on another side of communication. It helps to slow our pace of speedy and often faulty decision making, and asks us of our time. So much art exists that is uniquely made by exceptional thinkers and feelers. Take time in your assessment of such things because it exists to be cherished and questioned. But it takes an attitude of appreciation that is contrary to the dismissal of supposedly haughty things. We as artists are afforded a great opportunity to change such beliefs. It takes time to penetrate established ethics of poor behavior and thought, but we can help to change them so long as we are doing our job. To art students, I say, think about your work and think about it often. It is a great challenge and worth your time—as you are the ones who can show us the face of a new, more responsible, world. A Calling and a Message In teaching the arts it seems to me that skill can be taught but passion cannot. It may have to do with the application of skill being a very tangible thing, something visible and readily evident in the work when compared to other’s work at the same level or of a similar style. On the other hand, a teacher can be on time to class and always present and aware of the student’s needs, which has an impact, but the amount of time that teacher spends in their studio making work is less visible. Therefore, it is difficult to teach and to explain what it takes to be a complete professional, in addition to having the adequate skills of rendering imagination and observation visible on the canvas. In this sense the classroom is limited but I do my best to offer as much transparency into the exterior process as I can. For example, I post most of my completed work to accessible social media sites and to my personal website as well as inviting students in for studio visits. This serves as a somewhat tangible expression of discipline, but it still seems that some have the drive and love for it and some don’t. When recently asked what my inspiration to paint every day is I was at a loss for an immediate explanation. It is a very difficult question to answer concisely, as the question may have several contextual answers. The only definitive answer I have found is that it’s a calling. I admit it sounds a bit cheesy but it’s honest and proper. Some have the calling and respond to it willingly, others have the calling and it takes some conditioning, and others just aren’t moved by it the same way that artists are. They earnestly try different ways of making it their voice and discipline, but it just doesn’t stick, no matter their capacity or skill for it. I’ve seen some incredibly talented students that I would like to praise and put on a pedestal for their skill alone, but they just didn’t have what it took to carry it out for a lifetime. It’s my bet that their calling was something else, though it takes time to find it; while others just know it from the get-go. So I’d like to say to all the parents out there whose child is talented and shows exemplary skill in the arts: look not only at their skill, but also their inspiration. Do they seem compelled to do it? And does this incessant ability persist even through their late teens? If this is the case, then it is not skill alone that drives them—it is a burning heart and passion to create. Help send and direct them to school for it. 22
These are the artists of the world, and this combination of skill and desire deserves your support for a lifetime. So love them, because it is rare indeed. A More Personal Account of the Nonobjective It occurs to me that many people paint now “whose background of thought and feeling in painting is no different from that of the public itself.” 1By this, I mean that beauty is the public’s sole desire. The thing about nonobjective art is that it is naturally in contrast with everyday scenic or picturesque reality. Yet, it is its condition of nonobjectivity and abstraction that draws it closer to the interval and pace of everyday abstract thought and feeling. Its ability to draw upon life in abstract ways determines its very closeness to the mind and heart, yet, still it is not a form readily accepted in the Midwest. This, for the artist, is no doubt frustrating but it is the artist, one must remember, who positions him or herself in this way or that way within society. In other words, he chooses what to paint and what to display before the public. And what I would like to consider are other possibilities, aside from beauty, that artworks can provide. Beauty is akin to the polarity of prettiness and ugliness. It is what an artist might consider the base judgment of visual experience. But, when viewing and painting nonobjectively one might consider these aspects: morals, the role of skill, intellectual content, and the subject of feeling and sensation. Morally, one must ask: why nonobjective painting? To me, it is an expression of dissatisfaction with authority or, rather, the acceptance of individualistic freedom. When one undertakes the empty canvas, he is not locked into a readymade image of external form. He is in every sense an Anarchist. The artist creates without rules. Personally, I do feel it is a tumultuous situation as I on the other hand believe in rules and laws for society at large. Nevertheless, the role of skill—or, if I can put it in another way, control over the artist’s medium—is also subject to no rules. It can be tediously rendered or sloppily handled depending on what the artist is expressing at any given moment. This level of freedom is of utmost importance, I believe, to the nonobjective artist. And we often don’t consider the intellect when viewing so called beautiful artworks. But, the intellect of course plays its part. There is this ongoing notion of the conscious and subconscious mind. Both should be noted in the process of painting. Often, I find myself going in and out of awareness, or shifting between the conscious and more automatic subconscious states. Finally, feeling and sensation are perhaps the most significant interpreters and tools for expression of the nonobjective. Feeling as emotion and feeling as sensation is important. Sensation as it relates to the five senses of taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. And feeling as it doubles in meaning for the word emotion. Personally, it is always in the pursuit of touch that I consider the canvas’s surface. I understand that if I elevate the texture of the paint the sense of touch might well be excited; if I paint lushly with reds and oranges perhaps a sense of warmth, __________________________________________________________ Robert Motherwell, Apropos “Traditional” And “Modern” Methods Of Teaching Art
and so on. Therefore, nonobjective art can go directly to the matter without having to represent things literally. A Note on Graduate School My fellow students in graduate school wanted feverishly to align themselves with a current artist or group of artists. There were practicing artists I identified with, but they were older and few, such as Brice Marden, Stephen Westfall, Robert Mangold, and James Siena. The fashion of younger artists at the time was narrative or thematically based. It dealt mainly with specific personal or cultural issues of identity, race, politics, and environment. I wanted to wipe the slate clean, to find a style that corresponded with what I envisioned to be a non-subject oriented picture. I recalled my earliest experiences of art making and viewing. These moments were spent as a child in my dad’s studio mimicking his abstract paintings. This time was a time free from responsibility and there were few external pressures. I longed for these former conditions to grace my present circumstances. My concerns became nostalgic and innocent; my attention gravitated away from the current art world and toward the history of art. I looked to the abstraction of the past, to Supremitism, Constructivism, De Stijl, Color Field, Abstract Expressionism, and Abstract Classicism. To me, fertile ground remained there, room for transformation and newness. It was all an effort to create freedom: freedom for myself, from myself, and from my peers. A Struggle for Truth To express internal truths one must renounce external form. In so many words this is what Wassily Kandinsky stated over one hundred years ago. And although he was speaking in terms of nonobjectivity and toward the elimination of real objects from a painting, we can now take it further to mean that one must renounce any real care of external form whatsoever, be it realistic, abstract, or nonobjective. And although it is likely that a painting will fall into one or a combination of these three categories of appearance, we must give up our conditioned concerns of beauty or style of any kind. True beauty is always new and is the discovery of one’s self. This is how we get more personal. While we are working we must put the past out of our mind and step into the realization of the present. Find you in the work. Listen to your impulses and don’t question them. Listen in your mind for the next color, shape, or line. Be sober and aware. It is a quiet state in front of a painting where only your decisions count. Then you may begin to speak real truths, personal truths, and beautiful truths. It is difficult to sustain because you will no longer be aligned. Our tendency is to align with history. It is what we are taught. Free from history you will feel lost but remember it is really quite different. A Victory All victories begin with the self, even shared victories. When you say to yourself, I need to do this, and then you do it, that is a victory. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Victories over others are tyrannical. True victory does not relish in another’s loss. Surely we have all experienced the
backlash of guilt when we attempted to defeat another. All aggressive behavior, such as verbal and physical abuse, is false. Defeat of another in this way is entirely illusion because it is not free from negative feelings, from the realization of another’s suffering. As is said in the Tao, “Force is followed by loss of strength.” Victory knows only compassion. This is most significant to artwork because when it is you in the studio having the victories and defeats, we are not engaged in other’s suffering, a compassionate stance indeed. Strength walks hand in hand with compassion. When you have truly won, you will know. Because the experience comes without uncertain feelings. Not even the slightest concern for loss or doubt will be aroused. To experience victory is to experience clarity and gain. Not false gain bound to possession, but to that of mental nourishment. It is the feeling of harmony and reward. Abstraction No matter how abstract, I am not without reference. The world always plays a role. Agnes Martin Martin, in turning her back to the world, did so amidst the fallout of a world war. Her early paintings, decisive of a heavier palette, appear to reveal a certain inner turmoil. It is difficult to know what affect the state of the world had on her at this time, yet, if we were to consider the evident angst among the action painters of the time, one is compelled to believe it necessary that the work be permeated by this same emotional urgency. To my assessment of feeling the paintings undoubtedly gained an inner calm once she got to the early grid paintings; yet were mostly carried out using a variety of melancholy greys. Then, finally, after leaving New York and the heart of a cultural epicenter we see her going into the softer pastels. Both colorful and calm, they reveal her inner tranquility, and small happiness. At the end of her life we see the darkness return but the shapes within the paintings are clear, solid, and appear to take on a more symbolic meaning due to their delineation from their ethereal backgrounds, though their meaning will be forever unknown, as Martin never spoke of the shapes in this way nor, as far as we know, ever spoke differently about the radical leap in content and form at this time in her late career. All for Beauty To find your goal, what you really want in your work, is the answer. And some call it experimentation until you do find what you are looking for, but you realize it really wasn’t experimentation, more like failure, once you have attained your goal. The brighter way to look at this is to consider these failures or experimentations as successful steps in a long development. On the inside, though, every artist likely understands this: that, in the end, once you have found that thing you were looking for, the past works all feel and felt like failures. Now, I could describe to you all the different paths I took searching for myself, but many of those paths are too embarrassing to speak of. What I will say is this—I spent a lot of time making
work that was defiant, and surely a specific figurative body of work that was entirely narcissistic. With the help of others who viewed the work and through consulting my mind I knew this to be the case. And now, I surely know this to be the case because so much has been revealed through the process of landing on what I wanted, what I have always had in mind but couldn’t get out. And as pleased with myself and as happy as I am now, I can look back on those past works and see that I was often making choices in contrast to my audience, for myself, or out of some feeling of needing to compete with others. This is what I mean by having made work that was defiant. I won’t describe to you the characteristics or look of this work as it would do no good here. Just know that all of the works that I’m referring to, everything I have made until recently, had this quality because my attitude during their making was defiant. I was pissed that it wasn’t me—me receiving the acclaims, me receiving the awards, me receiving the grants, me selling the work, me, me, me. It was always me in the way of the work. You just can’t go on that way. And if you are devoted to it, to the cause of hopefully bringing some beauty into this world, you will continue to give yourself to it.
(22) Twonism VI: Empty, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
(23) Twonism VII: Full, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 48” x 48”
An Apolitical Language My paintings are apolitical in every sense. I find it curious that some feel this stance is also political, as I don’t involve and never have involved my politics into my discipline of painting. I have distanced myself from politics, parties, the issues, and for that matter, the news. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision in the beginning either, just a necessary step in keeping a clear mind. And I share my opinions, which are not political, through writing as it helps to reflect, to hone in on perception. I simply care little about the world outside of my discipline. I care for those I affect directly, such as my family, friends, and my viewers. I leave the politics and topical issues to those who care about them and trust that there is enough good in this world to carry out more just decisions than not. Others are better equipped than I to come up with the answers to political concerns. I am a painter. That is my calling. Perception is my voice. I uphold emotional, intellectual, and sensory experiences as the most apt communicative channels in which paintings “talk.” I am interested, one could say, above all, in nonverbal communication. I personally experience this form of communication to be the most vital, subtle, and precise of languages. And in order to provide others with acute thoughts and emotions nonverbally, I also paint. My most precious, contemplative, pure, and untainted experiences have come from looking at other paintings, so I chose long ago to participate in the mystery, which one could say, is not really a mystery at all, just another type of language that has been around as long as we have. Art Moves in Circles “Sometimes it is said that art travels in a circle, but every generation must paint its own way. It is not satisfied with the black square which Malevich did. Each generation must paint its own black square.” —Alfred H. Barr, Jr., from (U.S. Abstract Art Arouses Russians, New York Times) 1959 The course of art indeed moves in circles, many widening circles, some overlapping. The process is not evolutionary, not a linear movement toward complexity or a notion of better forms. Art reflects the needs of the culture at the time, not merely the culture itself. Therefore, there are times for rudimentary forms and times for sophisticated forms and times for both. If the era calls for romantic gestures, it receives them. If the need is of a classical tone, it deserves such. Should each tenant be called upon at once, each will rise. This is not to say that every generation does not attain newness, of course it does. It is to say that no form ever comes without precedent. Art is the halo of renewal. As ancient forms are polished the culture is revived. Balance II One may ask how a fundamental view of reality may be derived from nonrepresentational art. My answer to this is balance. It is through balance that a worldview is achieved. Balance through line, shape, color, and space. I’m just trying to get the right balance in the work. And if you slow down enough, it’s there. You may say, well, I don’t understand, as some do with nonrepresentational art, but it is nothing to be intimidated by. Just look and ask yourself, what do I see?
You see all of these lines and shapes that at first mean nothing, but if you take time enough to compare one piece to the next you might find that some nonrepresentational artworks please you more than others. I believe the pleasurable part has to do with the balancing of formal elements into a cohesive design, and that the design, at times, lines up with the balance of the individualâ€™s constitution in that precious moment of viewing. Beauty and Painting: Sensation, Emotion, and Intellectuality Beauty is received from a painting through a synthesis of sensation, emotion, and intellectuality. It would be of great benefit to know the quantities of each that induce a feeling of harmony, but, alas, we cannot know. Therefore, we continue to work at the mystery. But there are some things that can be said about these three attributes. Sensation refers to the five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. We of course know of few paintings that literally engage our senses of taste, sound, smell, and touch. We are accustomed to viewing paintings at a distance, as they first activate our sense of sight. But as Cezanne was keenly aware, we understand that through sight we can figuratively activate our other senses. He stated that, â€œFor an Impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations.â€? Furthermore, the nonobjective artist is not engaged in painting from observation; he abstractly recalls sensations from memory or is made aware of new sensations through the activity of creation from the imagination. Through the engagement of form we induce any number of sensory memories to at least include all five senses. Emotion has to do with color temperature, rigidity of shape, and the fluidity of line. If we were to consider a painting with warm color, bending shapes, and soft lines we would perhaps recall a forgiving notion of form, a kind picture with a pleasant attitude. If we were to consider a painting with cool color, hard edged shapes, and machined lines we would perhaps recall an unforgiving notion of detached repose. You can also see here that any number of combinations is possible. I have simply outlined differing relationships for the sake of simplification and understanding. It should be recognized that the emotions are much more complicated and infinite in response. Intellectuality in painting, at least to the degree that we are engaged with the nonobjective, has to do with measure in terms of symmetry, asymmetry, color relationships, and contrast. The intellect assembles itself on the canvas by way of reason and rationale. Measure manifests itself in degrees of precision. Were we to use methods of exactitude by way of a ruler or compass, our expression of the intellect would be quite clear. Were we to use an intuitive application of approximation our intellectual faculties would likely be less and succumb to a more emotional approach.
(24) Twonism VIII: Beauty, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60”x 60”
Beauty is Nonhierarchical Beauty is nonhierarchical. It is as easy as understanding that the man-made is a part of nature and that there is no experience of beauty of any kind that undermines another. Beauty comes to us in different forms and all are natural. The painting, the sky, the ocean, the grass, the poem, the novel, the theater, and the everyday stroll through the park are all possibilities for the experience of beauty and none are higher forms than the next. Sensibility is different. We each have our own taste and it is based on the accumulation of such experiences of beauty. We each walk our own path in life and where that path leads educates us about our sensibility. Therefore, if my path lead to an old oak tree losing its leaves in the fall and yours to a spritely young maple in the spring then it is likely we each will have our own convictions about what we feel is beautiful, but my point is, that both our visions are correct. Both are beautiful and both are meaningful. They may have their differences—for instance, one may be tragic and one comedic—but in the end all are expressions of beauty. Can Art Teach? In “The Romantic Manifesto” Ayn Rand wrote, “The basic purpose of art is not to teach, but to show.” She was right about the showing and wrong about the teaching. Art teaches as a result of showing, therefore, both are happening simultaneously. Though, art cannot determine the lesson, no matter if it plans for a specific lesson or not. The viewer is subjective. If the viewer reads the artist’s statement, it is still his or her choice of what to take and what to leave behind. Often, the artists themselves cannot even predict the lessons their art is capable of. Art is full of surprises. One would not attempt to prescribe universal lessons to an ancient Chinese scholar’s rock, yet we have been aware of their broad meaning and influence on both Eastern and Western culture for years. Competition I have competed and competed. I am aware now that much trouble comes from this path. But one must find their voice, then, one must share it, or continue to compete with it; and we will compete less and less, as a people, the more we are conscious of the harm it does to other living beings and to all things. Computer Design and the Manual Arts There is what already seems like an old argument within academia that resides between computer design students and their instructors. The debate among the students is that they do not need drawing, design, and painting classes that emphasize manual techniques over the use of the computer. What I will say is that there is no medium more direct than drawing, painting, and sculpting.
When using these mediums the hand is in direct contact with its tool and the tool with its result. What you see is what you get and what you get in the beginning is not always what you want. So, before utilizing a medium that prints results that are discrepant between the monitor and the page, learn to train your mind with a direct outcome first. The best solution to this, I imagine, is to educate students at both the computer and at the manual mediums simultaneously. This integration is good so long as one does not supplement the other. Connoisseurship Oh how I love the adornment of finer things! Connoisseurship is so important to life. What better to stave off potential boredom and to offset the day-to-day routine of work and necessity. Is it not also a necessity to fill the hazardous void of laziness! Are there not times in which nothing is happening that we turn to meaningless vices and destructive behavior? Instead, should we not seek out those things that are uplifting, that help to develop our sensibility of truth and beauty? I find such joy in paintings, a finely brewed tea, or in a well-manicured garden, or, in bird watching and the observation of nature. Through these efforts I discover what I love, and a deeper knowledge of things outside of myself. It helps to balance the days and to imbue life with essential details. Decisions My intent is to not deny the obviousâ€”a difficult task for the artist who strenuously searches for depth in things. Let us not forget these things: the sun shines, the wind blows, the rain falls and the earth quakes. Decisions must be made. Empathy, Compassion, and the Artist The artist, primarily through the making of his work, experiences empathy and compassion for and from his peers, family, and community. Surrounded by the right people at the right times his expression is expanded beyond himself, and through the direct and indirect influence of his fellow manâ€™s values, tastes, and considerations, his work is strengthened. The bonds that tie are evident in his thinking when he goes to create, and the better the artistâ€™s awareness of this depends on the fortitude of the relationships and their likeliness to endure. The artist is classically thought of to be compelled by a muse or by divine intervention, but the origin and possibilities of inspiration are extended even greater to include the human collective and beyond. We each feel the pulse of it through our personal networks no matter how large or small. Choices are likewise affected.
(25) Twonism IX: Prettiness, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Family Without question, family is at the core of all human expression. It is undeniably the single most powerful propulsion of voice. The artist is forged from friction and love for those who surround him, those who share his life and him theirs. The same tension and harmony that binds these relationships, binds the artist to his mediums. Fear To drink from the nearest stagnant pond is to ingest fear. But to seek out and be quenched by a running spring is to rejoice in victory. Fear is anti-art. The process of invention depends on freedom from your fears and from otherâ€™s fears. When viewing successful artworks one is not reminded of fear but of freedom. Artworks that remind us of fear are not on the side of progress. To experience the feeling of moving forward in artwork is to not be held back by fear and to not be held back by fear is to take risks. Risk is the opportunity for success. Victories over fear are the most rewarding accomplishments of will because they do not threaten or provoke negative feelings. Some believe that fear is necessary to rule and wars continue to be fought. Yet, it is plain to see when looking at powerful works of art that fear is not the motivation. It is really beauty that moves us to positive action. Power, beauty, and freedom are all the same. And all are external manifestations of inner victories over fear. Freedom for the Artist I have been fortunate in my upbringing to live the life of an artist. I gather it more difficult to forge my way as such if not my father an artist. Therefore, I owe him a debt of gratitude in making the choice visible to me. But, like all trades, it is a choice and the decision to become an artist was my own. The first and upmost significant need of an artist is a studio or desirable place to carry out creation. This is a place that, if need be, which I often find to be the case, one can seek solitude. And, if need be, which I often also find to be the case, the studio should have a door that may shut so that one may walk away from their creation. This studio should have all the necessary amenities of the home minus a bed. A comfortable chair to sit, all of your favorite books, a stove to cook, water, heat, windows that open in the summertime, and light. Of course, these things do not all come free, which leads me to the second upmost necessity for an artist. The artist should work. One must have a job to afford the studio. In all likelihood, save the lucky man, an artist must work at something other than their passion to supplement their passion. The artistâ€™s citizenry is two-fold. His work takes place inside and outside of the studio. If the artist may carry out this two-fold necessity, he may then be free. This is why he must be thrifty in his pursuit. 35
It happens that I am also fortunate on this occasion, as I share a studio with my father, an artist. My studio is paid for, but I also see to it that that studio is filled with artwork at most times. I would attribute my predicament to good foresight on my behalf, but my choice was made naïve and young, therefore I can only consider myself presently lucky. Enough about that, it should remain clear that the artist need a studio and a job for freedom to be bountiful. And make no mistake, art is about freedom. The artist’s will must be free; his choices must be made clear and without resentment or external pressures. This is why most artists work alone. For the work to speak, the artist must speak his opinions, beliefs, constitutions, and characters freely, without constraint or persuasion. The second he is gagged by the world, he is unable to state his peace, his offering for a better world. It is no one’s responsibility but his own to create a free state of expression around himself. The world owes him no debt or anything like that. If it is to be his path, the way of an artist, he need surround himself with support for his endeavor, not conflict. That’s why I say leave other people’s problems to themselves. Live a quiet life, one free of drama. Ideas & Beauty Ideas are useful, beauty is not useful. Both are contained by art. In one piece or in different pieces—e.g., A painting might be beautiful. A painting might contain an idea. A painting might possess both beauty and an idea. Impulse One of the most vital experiences in viewing artworks is the discovery of impulse. The great Action Painters of the 20th century had it, and above all Pollock and de Kooning. Their canvases were nearly entirely made up of unplanned action, or impulse. Having created works this way, we continue to view their masterpieces with excitement. The reason for their importance, I believe, is to kindle the same sort of awareness in life. We are taught many things. Within society we are to obey. Impulse, as we all know, often goes against obedience of conventional social constructs and outmoded moral codes. But, this is the awareness we need. To live life based on the awareness of impulse is necessary if one is to advance morally, socially, individually. We encounter many unusual impulses on a daily bases, but it would be thought of as dangerous to maintain this mind frame and even more eccentric or immoral to act on said impulses. Even here, I find it difficult to display my most fond emotional impulses without getting into some sort of trouble. I am sure that most of us could say the same. Well, nay, I say to this remedial mindset…at least in the realm of the construction of artworks. To behave in an impulsive and unrestrained manner when making art is how one obtains the greatest freedom. Now, as for behaving upon impulse in day to day living, one clearly has to be more cautious. One should be aware of their peers and relationships to behave on impulse, to be sure that the impulse is a shared one.
Instincts It takes time out of school away from mentorships, apprenticeships, general obedience, and away from all the initial necessary external directions to function solely on your own instincts within the studio. Then and only then is it you making your work, performing at your highest level. And it is worth it to recall that it is not always the greatest students that make the greatest artists. Though it is necessary to be receptive as a student it is sometimes necessary to hold your ground, to stick to your own ideas, to be hardheaded. It is those students with the softest backbone that worry me most within the fine arts. They are perhaps better suited for the demands of the applied arts and function best within a system, being loyal to that system or institution’s protocol. Upon graduation as a studio art major or fine artist it is up to you to create the rules and none will be put on you. This is either the greatest freedom or the largest burden. Instincts II Thirty-seven years of age and finally functioning on all instincts within the studio. No more desire for setting a mood and no attention to the intellect unless it is at the whim of instinct. No freedom like it. No more formulation, planning, scheming, or preconceived ideas. Simply reaction. My kind of painting. Like a quarterback coming from behind when all the chips are down I recognize the defense of the academy and the newest trends and they are fierce – audibles from here on out. Justice In the grids there is unity. Unity of relationships. But, I even hesitate to say there are relationships in my grids, because the entire gridded painting is being worked out in tandem. Really there is only me and the grid (me, the environment, the painting I am working on). The more perfect our bond (the painting and I) the better. And through this bond are many voices that occur. Relationships between the blocks of color suggests that one can separate out the shapes, and to be completely honest with you here, I must say there are no separations between the blocks, not in my activity of painting them and not in my activity of balancing them. From the moment the first line is drawn the painting has already reached a unity. From there it is a matter of working it out, the inspiration and the idea or either or. And as each mark is laid down my mind is already conceiving another. Each block is a connected entity. They are connected cognitively, emotionally, and physically; the blocks. Furthermore, equilibrium occurs. As in life, as Mondrian said so eloquently years ago…equilibrated relationships in society signify what is just. And as I’ve written before, some time ago, a painting is built on justice and represents it clearly if one slows down enough as a spectator to witness the idea, the history of how the painting is made. I just didn’t yet know how to describe the feeling and reality of how justice made its way into the paintings. Freedom is justice, love, equality, fairness and many things. So, all in all, to say that my grids consist of relationships is surface thinking, one must go deeper and see that the blocks are bound by the mental and physical activities of love for the endeavor, for the act, for the doing, for the final statement. 37
Leader Every artist is his own leader. At the end of the day after listening to everyone, it is still you who decides to put the brush to the canvas, and that decision is always your own. Light and Energy: Form is Born from a Primal State of Being It is often out of light that my paintings are born, either this, or out of darkness, which they in turn, then, move toward light. I may start with a colored pigment on top of a white ground, which is always out of the light, or, I will start with a black ground that negates the light. And with the black ground, the painting then moves into a state of color, or pigmented light. Now, this alone, is all one should likely say and need to say about the paintings, but there is more. The gesture is important. The gesture is energy, movement, and it is bound to the body as a very tangible structure and being. Therefore, through movement and gesture of hand, arm, shoulder, and body, the paintings feed off of energy and provide energy to the viewer. My paintings are abstractions of these forces; color and gesture, light and energy, material and immaterial. Primitive is their being and new is their construction. Master and Student The master of art recognizes his role as student and renounces his prejudices for clear conscious response. He does so not in rejection of the title master, but in acceptance of his role free from illusion. When the master teaches he does not command, he watches and listens. To draw forth unrealized capacities within the student he does not teach but is taught. Extracting is giving. In this way the student leads and the teacher supports. The head that shouts from atop a pedestal grows light from exhaling thin air. This teacher is likewise considered a breathless object. Besides, who sees plainly from such a height? Maxim With invention it is best to not think hard and then to think hard. It is helpful to be lazy and to work. Sit around, look out the window, and then get to work. Get the work and then be fat. Donâ€™t try too hard and then do hard. Do little and do much. Have a brief walk outside and look long within. Walk within for miles and miles, and then sit on a bench outside. Watch the leaves as they rustle. See the leaves as leaves then perceive them with your mind. See the many leaves as all of humanity hustling about, then see yourself as one leaf moving as the wind moves, without effort or resistance. Without effort you may break into ten thousand pieces and give life to things. In resistance, you may not break but be broken, and life will be taken from you.
Michelangelo and the Art of Illustration Michelangelo is often thought the fine artist, but I ask you to consider this: What defines the actions of an illustrator and that of a fine artist? Upon recently defending Michelangelo, the fine artist, it occurred to me that I might be wrong in my estimation of the enormously talented fellow. If we regard the illustrator as a person who carries out the demands of a client, who willingly bends his thought and ideas to a patron’s requests, then he foots the bill. If we define the fine artist as a person who fulfills, above all, his inner directives and whom stubbornly shakes off the demands of his audience for the power of individual freedom and change, the shoe does not fit. Without a doubt Michelangelo was a visionary and progressive, but that doesn’t make him a fine artist. Nor do apt skill and a highly original mannerist technique. Why the need for categorization then, because it is worth it to rescue his true values from a foggy past. For, when placing judgment on a man’s life and how it was lived, his occupation should come under scrutiny. And while a man’s occupation is not the defining character of his existence, it certainly can be a large part, particularly when contextualizing Michelangelo. At times in his life it would appear that he lived to work, passionately compelled by a divine force. The man himself is recorded as stating, “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” And likewise by the Catholic Church and Pope Julius II he was commissioned to paint the all mighty Sistine Chapel. But what works remain that are proof of his unrelenting will, that were created by himself for himself? What we know of the man’s work are commissions, both religious and secular. But in fact, the vast majority of his known paintings and sculptures were created to satisfy the egos of his leaders, not his own. Now, you may think me a bit pompous in regarding the fine artist an egoist; but is it not necessary for him to first satisfy his self in creating a true picture, all commodity aside? Free from market values and from the illustration of consumer needs, he is then able to function on his own volition under his own command. From beginning to end his choices, mostly unfettered by the world, land on the canvas one by one and are dictated only by the limitation of his mind and tools. With the ability such granted by him, he constructs the truest statements and asks the truest questions. Morale “A man’s power to connect his thought with its proper symbol, and so to utter it, depends on the simplicity of his character, that is, upon his love of truth and his desire to communicate it without loss.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (from Nature) The artist’s duty is a moral duty, his expression a moral symbol. His duty and symbol are one of man, woman, and culture, for the sake of his and her independence depends on the union of sexes and of all men, as does the perpetuation and advanced freedom of the culture. Art teaches its viewers to adjust humanely by presenting a moral code that bears the significance of self, family, community, nature, and justice, all bound by love. It is unavoidable that these qualities bear
themselves in the artist’s work; he is, in the greatest sense, a conduit of his times, a reflection of the needs of the culture, and serves as a filter for this. Morale II The artist’s duty is a moral duty: his responsibility is his own. He is not indebted to the world or anything like that, he is indebted to himself. The world, as a product of this, shares in his morality when the work goes on display. His only obligation to the world is to display his work. Just do what makes you happy. Stay with what’s positive in life and in the painting. Don’t waste time on anything else. This is living a moral life. It’s not for you to waste your time on other people’s problems, particularly on those who are not close to you. I know this sounds detached, because it is. If you do not like the chaos, your life depends on it. If you like order, then drama is not your friend. The detached painting is one that is calm, cool, and coherent. It is cool because it is detached, not affectionate. It is coherent because it is undistracted. It is calm because it is without worry. By this, I don’t mean it is apathetic; I mean it does not reach out its hand in aid, though it is there if you need it—like a good psychologist, it is not too attached. Painting functions this way for the classicist. His world is dictated by need. The romanticist’s world is consumed by want, an ever-bleeding heart. If you like balance you are a classicist. If you crave the chaos, you’re a romanticist. Between the two is a realistic stance, but it cannot be strived for. The realization of this occurs slowly and in moments of clear vision we find ourselves happiest, and are contented with our place. The trick is, to realize where your place is. Once you realize your place you can go on making your work and identify more easily the artwork that stimulates your sensibility. Buddhists traditionally used mandalas for meditation and still do today. The mandala represents balance and symmetry. They talk of a certain ‘centering’ of the mind and body that occurs while gazing at the mandalas. This is also representative of certain western quilt designs and nonobjective artwork. They are indicative of balance, and when gazing upon them we feel at peace. It makes sense, because in a nonobjective artwork there is little feeling of gravity, things in space cannot be measured so easily. What you have is infinite space with little or no limitation; earthen weight is displaced. Therefore, the paintings often have a calming effect. It’s not unlikely to experience a sensation of levity or buoyancy before them. Nature “When we speak about nature we must not forget that we are part of it and that we must consider ourselves with as much curiosity as when we study a tree, a sky, or an idea.” —Guillaume Apollinaire (from his essay based on conversations with Henry Matisse) All of nature is as the forest; its many ways are tangled. Vines twist, and so too does the brain. Appearance is one thing, action another, and non-action yet another. Do not forget the convolution of such things, but do not spend a lifetime unraveling. 40
Necessity “In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (from Nature) On a midsummer evening in the distance I see my paintings from the rooftop, where the sky meets the land. Here, one experiences the necessity of simple contrast. I am reminded of things divided, but really it is one thing without division, no duality. Because there is no division there is unity. Where the buildings meet the sky, hard edges touch soft brushwork. I didn’t set out to paint it this way. It is after the fact that I see the painting in the world. In this way there is no cause for the paintings, just that they are necessary as the sky is to the land. Need Answers are not to be expected with art-making. If they are to come they will come. It is an open-ended pursuit. There is no greater reason we make art other than to fulfill a need. This need is expressed by the art we make, so we go on making it to understand more fully our need. It is of utmost importance to realize that the work alone is how we begin to understand our need. This is why the work comes first and the writing and talk second. All three help in awareness, but only making and viewing the work is truly fulfilling. It is of little use to question or doubt our impulses while making and our responses while viewing the work. These moments keep us in line with our needs. After a while experimentation is no longer necessary because we are guided entirely by the awareness of our impulses and responses. Experimentation gives way to expression. It is not experimentation when we are following inner directives and are conscious of these. At this point there will be little desire for stories about what we have done or plan to do. More attention will be given to the making and to silent response. The work alone holds the meaning. The painter who paints beyond their immediate need is painting out of materialistic desire. This art is the craft of decoration, ornament, and luxury. It is about skill and surface beauty. Not genuine concerns for the artist. Desire is false in the face of the viewer and is detected likewise. Its appeal, though seductive, is of mere sensation and appearance. Overtime, the artist gains awareness enough of their needs to discontinue the creation of such works. As awareness develops we become naturally dissatisfied with skill-ridden work, or decadence. It becomes clear to the artist the difference between refinement and skill. Those who draw the distinction detect their needs, those who cannot will in time, and those who are not concerned with need are not involved with art making, but with the production of empty commodity. There is plenty commodity of all kinds posing as artwork. When responding to this work we do not respond according to our needs, but according to our desires, a strictly pleasure based response. This work is quickly exhausted. It is preoccupied with the illusion of reality, the pleasure principle of luxury. Real artworks are capable of all sorts of responses, including that of pleasure. The difference in core response between artwork and the viewing of luxurious objects is of satisfaction. Our response to artwork is of a deeper kind. It strikes chords within us that we remember, which enlighten us to our sensibility, to our individual needs. Experience such as this is not interchangeable. Objects of desire excite us temporarily, but are unmemorable and replaceable, and, therefore, unfulfilling.
Nonrepresentational Painting The point of nonrepresentational painting is not to eliminate representation or association, but to freely allow for the invention of basic forms, colors, and spatial relationships, wherein the painting’s meaning is intrinsic to its process and composition. It is a positive working method in its ability to expand the fundamental index of forms used in the visual arts and an efficient means to express both intellectual and emotional content. Not that Date Dates are often irrelevant to art. They can provide arbitrary division to what in reality is a continuum of thought and feeling. What’s a world that can’t be viewed without measure? A person changes in time—yes, and all of these changes are worthy of notation. But he is nevertheless himself from beginning to end, the same soul. So, no matter how coarse or refined, stiff and lyrical, succinct or contradictory, technical and spirited, logical or mystical, literal and figurative, useful or worthless my art has become, it is mine and yours in turn. And until my vocal chords no longer recognize these words to be my own, I will remain pervasive to this world, as will you. May we not be judged by maturity or age, wisdom and innocence, or by ideas, but by those who too are in pursuit of life. Obstacle and Void I Like nonobjective or nonrepresentational painting from times past we must also be unsatisfied with what came before and envision anew. We cannot rest on the old terms used to communicate, however unlikely, with words what pictures provide today. To create a new language of forms is also to create a new language of terms used to discuss the forms. And indeed we are creating new forms. So to the evolution of positive and negative, foreground and background, figure and field, push and pull, I would like to propose the idea of obstacle and void. The need for a new wording has arisen out of my work. When viewing the obstacle, one must go around it. In definitive works it is there. It is the positive or illusionistic protruding shape within the composition that one must work to understand and to spatially navigate. Upon going around the obstacle one may rest in the void space of the picture. I often associate the void with relaxation of the eyes and mind. It is the part of the picture that relates strongly to the metaphysical or ethereal quality of being and seeing. It is usually the more atmospheric part of the painting. The major difference between Hofmann’s idea of push and pull and my outlining of Obstacle and Void space is that the obstacle and void do not interchange. The obstacle, like a boulder in your way on a path, is static. The void is akin to the sky behind the boulder. Obstacle and Void II When looking at the shapes there is an ordered way of seeing. First you see the hard edge then 42
you see the soft center. Taoists referred to this way of thinking as “perception of the nature of things. Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.” Those who concentrate on the hard edges are attracted to certainty. Those who concentrate on the soft centers are attracted to the unknown. To perceive the soft you must overcome the hard. This is why the hard edge functions as an obstacle and the soft brushwork a void. Those who seek wonder linger in the soft middle. Those who seek clarity linger on the hard edge. Obstacle and Void III One of my favorite painters, Agnes Martin, showed us something very special, that is infinite space. You stand before one of her paintings and it’s as if one sees for miles into the piece. Well, that was her thing and I chased it for some time in my own work and in my own mind wondering if I would ever get there and be able to depict it for myself, but naturally I was dissatisfied as we each have our own path and unique obligation. But idolization works this way: you latch onto something or someone you feel is better than you and who provides you with much inspiration, and it’s as though you feel their path is yours for a time. What’s important now is that there is something else that I’m after, a very real space, not one that is only occasionally seen or imagined like Martin’s infinite space. I’m concerned with the depiction of obscured space, one that, if all obstacles were removed from plain view one could perhaps see forever. I realize that what I’ve arrived at is quite contradictory to infinite space, maybe even elementary in its difference, but it’s mine. I’ve referred to this kind of space as Obstacle and Void space in other notes that act to describe its retinal appearance, but it’s also significant to the mind and emotions. It is the depiction not only of literal space but of a sort of mental space. The kind that occurs when you’re suddenly blocked by some distraction, like something’s muddled your way. It’s a natural occurrence that I think most of us can relate to. And in depicting this kind of mental or emotional space I’m hoping that one can recognize the obstacles in the paintings, because once recognized, those obstacles are dissolved just like the recognition of fears in day to day life. Viewed in this way the paintings are a kind of productive arrival at distractions, not a luxurious escape from them. On Community Service Recently, I was asked why I don’t involve myself with community art associations and boards. My response to this is that I remain caught in the act of making and am still devoted to the thought that art is an individualistic endeavor. Decisions outside of the making of art, well, are best left to others. As far as what’s good for the community outside of the contribution of my personal work, showing my paintings, I’m at a loss. If someone approached me in private as to my opinion on this or that I would happily contribute, otherwise, it takes so much energy and emotional investment to serve on a committee. Debates on art and how to implement it into the social realm is, I believe, best left to the connoisseurs, such as the gallery directors, museum directors, collectors, art historians, and critics. As Agnes Martin once said, “I think artists paint them, the dealers sell them, and the collectors look after them.”
On Life and Art I would like to take issue here with the personal and impersonal in art. To what degree is the personal life of the artist a factor in the work? And to what degree is it important that his or her viewers be informed of their life? First, it is a question that we must answer for our self. If honesty is at all part of the filter through which art is made then I say that part or parts of life that informs the expression of artworks is of utmost significance to the audience. Particularly, to other artists whom frequently make up a good majority of that audience. The problem with process driven or technical art is that it lacks emotion, positive and negative. This apathetic work acts as so much meaningless decoration. So, I say, dedicate and share the inner workings of your mind and heart with those collectors or artists who care. Let your decisions in your work be known. And should you forge your work in the furnace of hell or delicately shape it upon some heavenly cloud let it speak to your understanding of these things and not to some falsehood or illusion of whom you are as a person and artist. It may not be good for business so to speak, but again, ask yourself what you are selling, some soulless object, or a piece of art? On Making a Painting I’m on my back porch after coffee and eggs and gradually this urge enters into my body filling my emotions and mind. I look out over the yard and the morning light is a flood warming my eyes and I’m off. I quickly fill my cup once more and head to the studio. There is a specific tenor and color to the painting I would like to start which I can only describe as residing in my soul. It doesn’t exist just in the brain or in my surface emotions; it’s already seeded in the deepest part of me. And it’s growing with every step closer to that sacred studio, that holy place. Buried deep it stays until the canvas is stretched and that six foot square is staring me deep in the eyes. I begin to think about the color and my execution. This takes some minor mental fortitude and practice. I mix two colors with white that cohere into soft ovals to be applied with a large pallet knife upon the canvas; a light yellow and a pale blue. The colors are very similar in feel and equal in value. From there I build the rest. Some colors are squeezed directly from the tube giving shape to thin vertical lines and circles. The ovals are horizontally placed so that the line work provides a little variety and movement. A scribble here and there feels appropriate and adds some zest and play. Each mark is a response to the last mark laid down until I can fit no more. The surface is fresh and the painting is finished in one shot! That’s how I like it. Now, I can stand and sit, back and forth, debating whether or not it is what I needed. Is it alive and if so in what way? Like a child or like an adult? Is it exciting or serious, or both? But mostly, am I satisfied enough to move on? Only time will tell. On Power Divine “…for not by art does the poet sing, but by power divine. Had he learned by rules of art, he would have known how to speak not of one theme only, but of all; and therefore god takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers, as he also uses diviners and holy prophets, in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these
priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that god himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us...” —Plato (from Ion) As Plato stated in “Ion”, the artist is something like a diviner and through him god speaks to us. This is an about face to the last century of painting, which has heralded above all the autobiographical nature of the artist. As Dave Hickey might say, “Stay a narcissist and become a junkie.” 2But when is personal expression or an overabundance of ego enough? Will it run its course? Is it more to believe in a higher power, to be humble before the collective, and to renounce self for power divine? There have been standouts along the way who believed in the third hand of God, but the overarching theme, beginning with a misinterpretation of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, post 1914, has emphasized the individual. It’s now a race for originality and has been for some time. Duchamp, regarded as the ultimate fine art prankster, redefined what art could be and do with his very first readymade, “Bottle Rack.” What Duchamp managed was to instill humor back into art in a very fresh and serious way. Yet, so much of his lineage has taken his ideas and transformed them into a haphazard, surface way of thinking that has devolved into art that merely says, “Look at me, look what I did.” Anything can be art. So much art now is fueled by the clever one liner. The idea of creating something of beauty with our hands has all but entirely given way to the intellectual idea machine which, in turn, has devalued both prettiness and ugliness, as well as anything of great or marginal craft. And while I don’t think skill is everything and that sometimes ugliness is needed, the intellect could stand to be balanced with a certain depth of emotion in today’s art world. Crude and raw can be great, just let it speak to the soul, not only to the mind. On the Origin of Expression I don’t know. But I’ve had this thought: Expression defines existence. I don’t mean that the effort is to sum it all up into one big understanding, more like, the cave man let out a yelp to let ‘the world’ know that he was alive. And from then on he developed his yelp into more nuanced yelps. He perfected his “language,” so to speak. And I can’t help but believe that a major part of this corresponded with divine suffering. One reaches a point when he must orate, to communicate with the gods, I suppose. (Just thinking back here…at least trying to.) Certainly from within came an outward manifestation. What is also interesting to think about is whether it was out of joy or frustration that the yelp, or what have you, came into being. My initial thought—visceral, sensory, emotional charge in sitting here wondering—was out of reaching a point of muted expression; therefore, out of suffering, man seized the moment and went on… A feeling of isolation could have been the propulsion to speak.
Lyra Kilston and Linda Theung, “Dave Hickey Advises: Stay a Narcissist and Become a Junkie” (https:// http://hyperallergic. com/106324/dave-hickey-advises-stay-a-narcissist-and-become-a-junkie/) 2
On the Origin of Inspiration The origin of inspiration is unknown to us. When inspired to do this or that we are often at a loss as to where the inspiration comes from, but still we move forth. With joy into our next discovery we venture forward and are motivated in pursuit of our goals. This is the nature of intuitive thought. Without a strict plan we are spontaneously reacting to life in the present. Some reactions are negative because they happen according to unreasoned instincts. But I assure you the instinctual is the best state of mind for the artist. It is a virtuous state of mind. Most decisions will be positive and toward survival. The negative reactions are quickly recognized, edited, and treated as mistakes. Mere reaction is not yet conditioned by the intellect. It is purely emotional. Response, on the other hand, dictates the temperament of emotion by the intellect. Rational thought is necessary to planning, but with artwork it is best to act and react in the moment, keeping in line with sudden inspiration. To be enveloped in the work, by impulse, is the highest reward of art making. It is an adventurous state of mind. On the Power of Painting Given the popular views of our culture, it is ridiculous to suggest that art saves lives, though it should be recognized that it too has an immediate and accumulative effect on our emotions, not unlike medicines do in the bloodstream. The psychiatrist prescribes medication and the surgeon replaces a heart, as does the artist whose work reinvigorates a person’s lust for life. Is it so ridiculous to speculate on a painting’s ability to cure depression? If a person were to surround themselves with art that stimulates them, there is no doubt in my mind they would find a healing potential in the work, but it takes effort. Go to galleries, museums, non-profit spaces, experimental spaces, open studios, and other people’s homes to find it. You don’t have to buy it. Seek it out. If it’s for you, it could change your life. Just like spring is a welcome change after a cold winter blue flowers instead of red could be a cool adjustment and sanctuary from the heat of coming summer. Freshness stems from these movements. Art offers its own excitements - a cool mark of red to a blistering mark of blue! On the Subversive Joy of Not Selling There are artists who sell work and there are artists who don’t, or who sell very little. I am one of these. But pay no mind, as I do gain pleasure in having little “worth.” In the beginning, it was frustrating to have an opening that fell flat, but now I see it as a mysterious occurrence of which no one, not me or the dealer, have any clue about. And I like that. I’ve not experienced the pressure to make and remake certain motifs because they will sell. This has, in my opinion, offered me a great deal of freedom as an artist; the freedom to change. If anything, now, there is a slight lingering fear of selling, as I know not how I would react. I don’t know how it would influence my output. Would I be less willing to take risks—to push forward into unknown terrains?
Who knows? Anyhow, the other side of the coin is that I simultaneously loathe and am envious of others who do sell. It seems as though posterity, in some people’s eyes, is how one gains a reputation and relevance. Part of me believes this as well—that artists are in a way elected into recognition by the sale of artworks within the gallery system. And I say, elected, because the system is built on likeminded peers, people who in one way or another are the most educated about art, and who speak out about art. Success in this system might symbolize respect for artists that sell—a kind of success that I have not yet enjoyed. On the Work of Ellsworth Kelly I have what can be described as a great distant respect for Ellsworth Kelly’s work. What he did, among many things, was to remove the hand from pure abstraction. As I understand it, he wanted the color and form to read clean, clear, and pure and unfettered and undistracted by mark making. He accomplished much in the wake of the Abstract Expressionists. Yet, I remain distant from his style because of its detached repose. At times, I feel as though I have similar needs with regards to form and color, but I let the marks show most of the time. I feel, like many, that the warmth of a gesture is needed. It adds a kind of emotional content to the work that otherwise would be perhaps merely retinal display. I like sensuality in a painting, a certain amount of emotional correspondence is invited. It gives my work that humanist feel, a mystery of inner feeling, and subsides being too pragmatic or overly scientific in its manifestation. To sum it up, Kelly’s work has always thwarted my love a bit by being, to my heart, a bit too rational.
(26) Twonism X: The Beautiful Night, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Order of Perception Sensation, emotion, reason, and then action. In response to an external and internal stimulus, we feel it viscerally, weigh its positive and negative effect with our mind, then we act. Or it is reaction, which is different than responding according to reasoned emotion. Reaction is spontaneous. Response involves both emotion and reason prior to action. Good reason is initiated by positive emotional experiences and is defined by positive action. All three happen according to our perception of beauty. Beauty is found in nature and, because we are part of nature, it is within us and all around us. Painting in Two-Dimensions The strength of painting and photography is two-dimensional space; the strength of sculpture is three-dimensional space; the strength of installation is environmental space; the strength of video is sequential time; and the strength of performance is the live happening. I paint; therefore, my concerns are inextricably locked into two-dimensional space. I proceed with this bond between painting and two-dimensions in two ways: the sides of the canvases are not painted and the face of the painting is flat. Because the canvas on the sides of the paintings is left raw, the delineation between front and side is clearly stated. This is done to emphasize the greater significance of the frontal plane. Also, I do not paint too thickly or use collage elements and reliefs on the face of the painting. My process utilizes illusionary space defined by two-dimensions instead of actual space defined by three-dimensions. The line between two and three-dimensions cannot be crossed with painting. Speaking formally, to make one believe in three-dimensions by using two-dimensions is the real accomplishment of painting. Poem Versus Novel In contrast to Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenological interpretation of the poem, “… the image has touched the depths before it stirs the surface…” The novel stirs the surface before the depths. Using the crescendo effect, a novel often builds the storyline with outer details before reaching its climax. The poem casts aside surface details from the heart of the matter. Perhaps the most direct form of poetry, the haiku, lays before us an expanding universe of feeling and environment using the barest of formal means. As in painting and drawing, the speedy and direct presentation of poems has always attracted me. Practice for your Absence The entire art enterprise is like a practice for your eventual absence from the world. How would I like to be perceived? Everything matters: morals, laws, justice, good sense, righteous behavior. 49
It’s not any light matter. And it’s very freeing if you think about it, because what’s right in art is what’s right to you. Process Truth not in words and paint, but in expression. Fixate not on letters and marks, but on movement, the flow of existence, life. This is to participate, not to anticipate. It is a relaxed state of mind. If there are discoveries to be made, they will happen. Questioning the Sublime Where do we experience the sublime today? Do we find it in the same old haunts—on a stroll through the winding wood, before a luminous sunset, in the grandeur of a coming storm, before a Turner, a Church, a Bierstadt, a Rothko, or a Newman? Or do we find it in reading Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Frost? My wager is that we continue to discover and rediscover it in these things, but also in the ecstasy of rapid communication brought on by the internet age. (As technology gains speed and reliability, with an ever-expanding interface of social media sites and blogs, it already feels old hat to be writing this.) We access things near and far faster and faster from our monitors at home and on the move. It’s mobile, transformative, anxiety ridden, fearful, thrilling, and arguably more provocative than Mother Nature with her infinite ways of growth and destruction. It mirrors her in its vast content and diversity of application with roots, or Wi-Fi, deep and wide as the oak. But what is the sublime? Traditionally speaking, it is the chaos of twisted branches and knurly foliage overcoming the scale of a few human figures depicted by Frederick Church. It is the memorable voids and expanses of grand color the Abstract Expressionists described as tragic and spiritual. Today, these large expanses of nature are seldom sought out and no longer have the same availability. It’s unfortunate; yet, the internet virtually allows us to visit these foreign locations and objects with greater ease at speeds unimaginable. We may discuss these newly found places via Snapchat, if one likes. This brings me to my point—communication. Must the sublime be only recognized by the solitary man or woman within the landscape, or may transcendental experiences be found in the surface meditations of instant messaging? My bet is that it resides in both. We may be lazier than days past, but we’re getting our fix in a different way now. I know I’ve experienced the ultimate technological gratification via Skype. It is mind blowing still, at least when one takes a moment to think about where we were, in comparison, just twenty years ago. Reassurance There will come a time when you feel as though no one is listening, no one is seeing. I assure you there will come another time when all are listening and all are seeing. You will find out what is true and what is not if you just stick around. In such brief moments the grey bird of truth emerges from clouds and back. And if we watch, a glimpse is all we ever need to lead us on. 50
Responding When the artist goes to see work in the museum or gallery he goes looking for nothing. He has the simple need to see. The second he looks for something he is consumed by understanding. To experience artworks fully the artist’s mind awaits invitation; otherwise, it is predetermined response. Clear response necessitates willful openness. Response to a Younger Artist I was asked how I got here, to this place of goodness in the studio; so I will respond. Hard work, that’s how. And that’s all. It takes years sometimes to reach it. Sometimes just a matter of minutes, I suppose. All the while I followed me outside of the work and me inside of the work. It feels like it might last this time, having found the grid and color, but I don’t know that for certain. I’ve painted the grid for years really, having not been satisfied, I mean, really satisfied, with a single one until now. I wasn’t ready. What I mean is that my soul wasn’t developed in such a way as to truly express itself. And by my ‘soul,’ I mean my mind and body and heart and everything it takes to be an artist. But you still make work no matter your condition of being. You must make work. “I’m glad I worked for those twenty years,” Agnes Martin said, “because otherwise I wouldn’t know anything. With painting you just get up and paint, you don’t see anybody, you don’t talk to anyone.” And I think what Martin meant by this was that you have to observe for a time: one must take in information to develop a voice of their own. If you are so lucky to find it (your voice) then you need to stay focused once you do. It could leave you the second you turn your back on it. And though I have not turned my back on it, somewhere in the back of my mind is uneasiness, not dissatisfaction with my voice whatsoever, but uneasiness as to how one should proceed. It is there, my voice, all of the time like a precious child wanting to express itself, but one must protect their voice. You can’t just go all about shouting and rebelling and acting a fool once you have ‘arrived’ as they say. If you go around acting a fool, you will be treated like a fool of course. So, when waiting for ideas and inspirations there is this uneasiness. It makes sense I guess—this uneasiness, keeps one on their toes. I suggest to students of painting to make lots of work and to follow you (yourself) in the work. No matter how little a piece of you gets into each painting, follow that part. Follow the work. It will take you where you need to go. And if you should arrive at something special, you will know it once the painting is in fruition and certainly once it is completed. I, personally, am someone who has changed a lot. I took my time with it. It’s been almost ten years since I graduated from school with my degree in painting and drawing. And it took me nine years to finish my formal education. So, all in all, it’s taken me nearly twenty years of serious time devoted to painting to get to this point of contentment with my work. There are many maturities as an artist and this, no doubt, has been one of them. And I hope to follow this one for as long as I can.
Ryman and Vermeer “Robert Ryman,” as keenly stated by Brice Marden, “is the Vermeer of our time.” What both Ryman and Vermeer have given us is light, yet, of two different kinds. Vermeer illusionistically depicted light with the use of representation while Ryman has reflected real light back to us with the use of nonrepresentation. By shifting the surface elevations of paint and values of white, Ryman has imbued us with exterior environments, whereas Vermeer’s were interior. We penetrate a Vermeer and dance on the surface of a Ryman, which has been one of the greatest perceptual advancements by way of ‘seeing’ that modern art has offered. Selfless Is the work selfless? Of course not. How does one “achieve” humility in the work? The image is thing-less, that is for certain. How does one “accomplish” purity? What is purity in art? The instincts have it, just the instincts are pure. No interference from others. The solitary act. Isolation is not necessary, unless it is me, working in the studio. Social living is necessary, unless it is me, working in the studio. Even then, at times I crave the social environment. Then it is time to put the brush down. The social mind is disturbing to the act of creation; one cannot concentrate on his task. For some, the social mind is harnessed, and decisions are delegated. This is not my kind of art. Not my kind of living. I would make a horrible manager. Teaching art is different, it’s not, go do this and go do that – the student has options. A perfect painting, now that is something. Is a painting a reflection of the artist or a proposal from the artist? Is it the way he sees the world or the way he would like to see it? Can it be both and be pure? Yes. A quiet moment of purity – the first sip of the finest brewed tea. Like the first snow, the first rain, or the first born. Everyone recognizes it. You can say, well, it’s just cliché to experience things this way, but the cynical mind is not mine to have, nor ours to dwell in. A life of joy can be had. You have to want it most of all. It’s in the details. You would think, if the actions of the joyful man are most pure then those of the cynic are also pure, but who are we kidding in thinking this way? You would think that some are born a cynic and that they’ll die a cynic, but there is hope. Always, there is hope.
My hope when I set out at a young age to be a painter was to have a painting hang in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is still my hope however unlikely. It keeps me going, this dream. And however long it takes is what it takes. You just keep going. Skill and the Fine Arts I’m not sure if I know how to say this correctly but I’m going to try. We’ve been taught, particularly in academia, that skill is of the foremost asset to the student in whatever his or her field may be. If one can master the skill set being taught to them then they more than likely will rise to the top of their field. It’s about competition at its root. Be the best and most confident and you will conquer others in your pursuit. This is the real world. Well, there is another world called the fine arts. Here, I would like to believe that skill does not have to be the goal. Expression should be the goal. This means that whatever the artist is going through at the time, be it happiness, depression, or both, that they may achieve an end result to their liking and be satisfied sans the viewer’s taste and expectations. I also would like to add that the dangers and thrills of skill that I observe day to day in teaching drawing are relentless. I see the rise of emotions of students who admire the skill of others with more experience at drawing than them, then, who are later devastated at times by what they perceive to be in themselves a lack of skill. To them I say it’s not a lack of skill or mastery of craft that should be the driving force of art. You are where you are at any given point in life and one should be content to draw upon that source. This is the nature of art and the very best, if it is fair to say, will in the end, be happiest knowing they took a chance on themselves regardless of how good something else looked to them. Just do. Do what you can. Try to be in a position where you can afford supplies even if it’s black, white, and grey charcoal on paper. Or better yet, a stick in the mud. Watch it dry and show your friends. They will be happiest for you because you took the time for yourself and created something of merit. Everyone recognizes it. We are beautiful. Small Steps In the studio, as I’m working, I am not thinking about the viewer... If you choose to go to school for art, and to continue your studio practice professionally, afterwards, there are no more critiques, no more one-on-one meetings with mentors and professors. There will be times when you are not showing. Which is a good thing. Because, then, it will be you alone working in your studio, revealing your unconditioned needs. They are unconditioned because each one is newly realized. This is why it is necessary, first and foremost, that you be fulfilled. This requires not projecting the imagined needs of your viewers onto your canvas.
Therefore, only concentrate on what you need from the painting you are working on or with. It is difficult to know what you need in the beginning, since the need is often revealed as you work. But it is always dictated by a feeling of moving forward as connected to prior discoveries and to the unique demands each painting puts on you. Each painting is like taking a new step. If you are to imagine walking your entire lifetime without stopping, that would be a lot of steps. Each painting is like this—like taking one step forward. So each consecutive need is a simple one, a very small adjustment in the scenery. Spirit There is nothing more real than the spirit; it is the life within things. We understand that no feelings have been lifted without it; yet, so often, it goes without regard. Unity is the essence of spirit: a painting that is gazed upon. When the positive spirit is shared, its potential is wholly realized and happiness is received. In life, as in art, we are compelled by it. We are disarmed before the expression of spirit. What once were weapons of negative thinking become tools for self-improvement. Square Painting I paint within a square format. The square is equal on all sides, therefore a symbol of freedom, of equality, nonhierarchical. It is also the representation of entrapment and enclosure. The saying goes, “think outside of the box,” but in reality we cannot, just as we ourselves cannot escape our body and mind. Freedom is within in the box, and we as individuals may function this way inside of the world, amongst society. Style New voices are growing all of the time. As generational pedigrees of art become tired its representatives of mother and father come together to greet the new. In agreement and exchange of new and old, voices come and go. New voices are ones through which all others past, present, and future are expressed for a lifetime. In their duration they remain the terminal style, and in their absence glow for all time. Style II Style is not only necessary for an artist but inevitable, if they are being true to themselves. Awareness of technique and content charged by the artist’s interior and exterior world eventually gives life to one or more styles. Yet, no matter how many outward appearances the artist’s work takes, if one looks deep enough and familiarizes their self with an artist’s work, they will see that a single style is pervasive to all of their modes and techniques. Style is the representation of self.
The misconception of style, now, is due to the word’s association with superficial concerns like developing a logo or branding, which has more to do with fashion and a capitalistic perversion of the work. Subject, Meaning, and Manner in Nonobjective Art “It is absurd to ask what an artist “really” meant by his product: he himself would find different meanings in it at different days and hours and in different stages of his own development.” —John Dewey (from Art as Experience) These few words by John Dewey explain not only visual art’s ability to thwart explanation, but invoke a universal subject for all visual art, especially nonobjective art. The subject is always one of meaning. Art is of varied meaning even within the circumstance of a single encounter. Meaning is the subject. Even the realist’s art can be interpreted in multiple ways. Furthermore, to express the meaning of visual art by way of words, to quote Dewey once more, is “to deny their (its) distinctive existence.” Visual art is to a degree a language unto itself and it communicates exclusively visually giving rise to the other senses. This being said, nonobjective art, or art without recognizably depicted objects in it, I believe, ventures even more purely into the realm of the visual. Without making any attempt at storytelling it sets forth the sensations of objects without depicting the objects themselves. The substance or meaning is concentrated like that of cider to apples, or, like a scientist may refer to water as H2O, it is the breaking down of realistic form to bare essentials. The realist shows an ocean and the nonobjective artist simply uses various blues. Their object remains the same but the manner by which that object is stated has changed. Trees are a popular motif used by landscape painters, and browns and greens may be popular among nonobjective artists, but the manner of how they are expressed is personal to each. The Ancient Speaks of Mystery Who in this world knows of the mysterious hold paintings have on us? Of the vast diversities of thin to thick, light to dark, muted to luminous, spirited to logical, and curved to straight? Why so many infinite ways to make a painting? Why so much dissatisfaction with past generations? A true path unfolds through questioning; the universal self reveals ten thousand ways to make a mark. Ancient values and new beginnings guide us through the void and beyond the obstacle. This is the great knowing. The Artist and Collector There was once an artist and collector. The collector paraded his money about the artist and condescended over the artist’s lack of riches. “Don’t worry,” said the artist to the collector, “I may not have much, but I do have moral conviction; and which is more meaningful, money or morals?” “Yes,” replied the collector, “that may be, but which is more practical, morals or 55
money?” “Indeed,” the artist responded, “that may also be; therefore, if you wish to purchase this painting I will sell it to you and one day it may bring a handsome reward; but, remember: what it contains cannot be bought or sold, only gazed upon.” Morals cannot be purchased, only practiced. The Concern of Materials There is a difficult part of art-making that has to do with material concern. At its base, artworks are made of materials; even music often stems from some sort of material property—a simple clap, slap of the knee, tap of the foot, or vocal instrumentation. With painting and drawing, traditionally, we need extraneous materials such as canvas and paint, or paper and charcoal. Whatever the materials used, they are essential to the artistic process. I have seen so many students and fellow artists discouraged by the need for materials. They are expensive. But their worth is unquestionable and greatly important. You can’t think: Well, I can just wait it out for better and more perfect materials before getting started on my next project. You have to work. It feels at times like materials are being wasted because you may not be satisfied with your results, but this is part of the process of art-making. These times will come but we do our best to move forward. There is always the possibility of surprise. If you spend your time waiting on what you feel to be the perfect inspiration you will surely be defeated when the piece doesn’t turn out. So I say—again and again—just keep working and don’t be afraid of your materials. You are mostly in charge. Mostly, because when working with a new material there is a learning curve, but that curve can surely yield unique results. The Concern of Materials II On this topic of material concern I speak as a painter, not as a philosopher, or poet, or theoretician. Perhaps the most beneficial factor to a painter’s life is that when it comes time to work that he is grounded in the reality of shaping and expressing with materials. This requires a present and responsive mind frame, a clearing of the underbrush and cobwebs. One must be present and firm in resolve. Free from distraction a clear mind is gained for the duration of the working time period, and as a result we are then refreshed. The expressing part is difficult to explain with regard to material. Unlike the shaping, it is not wholly technical, but is tied to technique. The fundamentals of painting are of utmost importance here as only once they are treated and recognized may one begin to express. And vice versa, expressionistic discoveries tied to technique are found out along the way preceding intended technique. Purposeful technique sometimes gives way to a better, more expressive content. Expression, in this way, happens spontaneously without intent but is recognized by the artist as an essential characteristic in its process. Either way, shaping or expressing, the act of physically, mindfully, and heartedly manipulating materials is our concern at base. Shaping the material is easier to explain and more tangible in its lessons. We all can see when a figure is ill-proportioned whereas only some of you will work long enough to discover its true 56
configuration and obtain the skills to depict it in such a way. Hard earned is an understanding of true form through depiction and more likely is your improvement of shaping than your improvement of expression. The subtlety of expression is more difficult to grasp than correct form yet both are always linked. The Contemporary Painter’s World It is excitement in living that moves me to paint, not the tragic forms of the Abstract Expressionists who were prompted by death. Color-wise I am moved more by the Pop Artists; however, I have little interest in their representational subject matter or flatness of color. Structure-wise I am moved by the Abstract Expressionists; therefore, I retain their abstractness. But it is important to remember that the Abstract Expressionists were an older generation of artists who came by their subjects naturally, later in life. So it makes sense that they were compelled to grapple with the struggle of death. Nor are my abstractions the clean lined and shaped abstractions of Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich, who came about generations before the Abstract Expressionists. It seems that what our time has in common, abstraction-wise, is the notion of imperfection. Even when I address the grid it is not overly confident and stable, but more often shaky and incorrect. This, in my mind, is a more contemporaneous notion and forgiving sensibility than the rigid attitude of past times. Indeed, the older I become, the more romantic my pictures, and the less classically structured I am. And this is not only a personal reflection of my state of mind, but also a culturally inspired attitude—likely in response to the instability of our world climate since 9/11. Flexibility is needed. Additionally, with regard to the needs of here and now there seems to be not only the individual working within his studio, the hermit model, but also the social model. And both are now allowed to exist and to exhibit simultaneously. There is a need for this. Once upon a time, it seemed as though the terminal style was either/or and rarely coexisted—let alone was ever exhibited— within the same gallery at the same time. Back in the day, the Abstract Expressionists were individualists and the Pops that came after were more socially involved in and outside of their artwork. The Abstract Expressionists were not exactly social, certainly not in the sense of a Warhol, or in more modern times, a Jeff Koons, or an Ai Weiwei. Lastly, it seems that today we need both camps operating not in tandem, but rotating back and forth at the same time; a separate interaction between the individualist and the socialist (so to speak). It would seem that the individualist guards the spiritual, and the socialist the secular. There are exceptions, but this is no doubt the tendency still among contemporary artists. The difference being: both are eligible for recognition in today’s art world. The Fundamentals I was once asked what the basic fundamentals of art were. I responded by saying that it depends solely on the person asked. You can ask an artist, art historian, an art (or art history) instructor, or
refer to a textbook; but no matter your reference, it is subjective to that individual or individuals who supply you with the information. Before consulting an index of terms I would consider this: the creative act, in general, stems from one or a combination of two polarities. These two poles consist of art produced from observation and art made from the imagination. Often art involves both of these, but for the sake of “fundamental understanding” I think this division provides us with a helpful lens to view our objective. From here, it is up to you to decide which end of the spectrum you receive the most satisfaction from. The fundamentals can be broken down into specifics and the list of terms is seemingly infinite. Shape, line, color, light, value, space, movement, volume, rhythm, repetition, pattern, harmony, disharmony, symmetry, asymmetry, and distortion are just a few to think about. The understanding of such specifics depends on what familiarity you already possess, and on what direction you would like to take your art. If you already have knowledge in one or more areas of the terminology, I would suggest expanding your lessons to other fundamentals. If in the beginning you struggle with indecision, it’s not a bad idea to seek help from an instructor. Assignments aren’t always a bad thing when it comes to art making. Yes, art is about freedom of choice but, in your infancy, projects can help to clarify your sensibility. The Genius is a Medium Timothy I know of a young man, younger than I, that is gifted as the sky. And I never thought of the sky as gifted until now. But it contains the birds, the insects, the rainbows, and the sun, And these are just the obvious things that come to mind when having fun. And he’s black and he’s young, and I can’t avoid these aspects When writing of him because I must be honest with you here. This is the space for some honesty, yes, And on this day, I will tell you, that he has inspired me to write. And on this day, I will record, that he considers himself, at times, a mere conduit. And on this day, I shall confirm, that he is one. But, on this day, I shall also say that I have evidence of his further gift, For, there have been times, like this one, that a massive lift Has greeted my gravitous bones. And I credit his writing and him as a man of words for the lift, For, he has born my mind into something of the birds and insects that do fly. Therefore, that’s the reason I will give you why Tim is gifted as the sky. And it shan’t be odd that I mention his flesh, For, it’s further proof that the blessed know of not one single color, 58
But that they know of many, and that they wear the universal color of the sky. Yes, we do – He and I The genius is a medium through which others communicate thought and can be seen as the scribe of a culture: a painter, a person, an individual by which ideas pass through. The source is at times unknown to him or her; nevertheless, he communicates by will, inspiration, and self; and by self only insofar as the expression serves his will and permissions. A profound echo of voices is engaged within him of which he is sometimes aware, and then, a sudden occurrence, outburst, or accumulation of subtler inspired moments is released into the world by way of birth, creativity, empathy, love, and compassion. Ok, now I will elaborate… The will comes into play before and after the perception of the object; the object in this sense, being, whatsoever is employed by genius. And by employed, I mean, willed into being. As Arthur Schopenhauer wrote long ago, “For genius to appear in an individual, it is as if a measure of the power of knowledge must have fallen to his lot far exceeding that required for the service of an individual will; and this superfluity of knowledge having become free, now becomes the subject purified of will, the clear mirror of the inner nature of the world.” But the scribe—as I like to call him or her, the genius—is not emancipated of will entirely, only for the duration of the pure perception of the object. It is by his decision and by his discretion to utter the words, write the letter, create the work of art, and do the science—to execute his or her true interaction with the world. And that decision, always, is through will. Yet, the abundance of knowledge or creative guidance provided him by others, I can only describe as being like a gift vested him by sources sometimes unknown or, as Schopenhauer wrote, by “the gift of genius.” Furthermore, Schopenhauer went on to write, “In other words genius is the ability to leave entirely out of sight our own interest, our willing, and our aims and consequently to discard our own personality for a time, in order to remain pure knowing subject, the clear eye of the world; and this not merely for moments but with the necessary continuity and conscious thought to enable us to repeat by deliberate art what has been apprehended, and “what in wavering apparition gleams fix in its place with thoughts that stand forever!” And by “leaving entirely out of sight our own interest, our willing, and our aims and consequently to discard our own personality for a time”— this is where I again come into play. For, it is by an orchestration of internal voices that I hear and perceive. But, the orchestration is there to help, positively, toward our aim and this duration of perception is bookended by a demonstration of will. Therefore, yes, I agree with Schopenhauer that it is not our self, or our “personality”, as he puts it that is the guide; it is those voices of others who guide for the duration of our perception sanctioned on either end, by will.
(27) Twonism XI: A Bright Day, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
(28) Twonism XII: Love Letter, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Cold Wax Medium on Canvas, 60” x 60”
The Need for Aesthetics “With the rise of the standard of living the number of things which satisfy the physical needs of man have been greatly expanded. Originally these needs might have been called: food sufficient to satisfy hunger, shelter to protect him from meteorological inclemencies, and clothing to stave off pneumonia.” —Mark Rothko (from Art as a Form of Action) While Rothko’s words mainly hold true today, it might be said that aesthetics have not only recently been deemed necessary to the physical sphere of man’s needs, but have always been necessary. Caves were decorated, as were numerous instruments of war and dress. Aesthetics have performed their needed function from the beginning, acting to balance the physical and spiritual biological needs of man. Furthermore, in today’s world, aesthetics have gone as far as being implemented by legislature with beginnings in groups as small as housing development committees. Democratically, the proper height of grass and coloration of painted exteriors are voted upon. If one does not comply with certain aesthetic ordinances, that person is fined. I’m hoping to point out and to demonstrate the degrees to which man goes to beautify his surroundings and to ease his mind of ugliness and discomfort. It is to show that aesthetics have always been part of the equilibrium of needs deemed for survival. So, when considering funding for the arts in schools and institutions around the world, please recall the arts’ vital part in survival and to the enrichment of a humane and civilized culture. The Nonobjective A couple of viewpoints have been on my mind of late. They are questions really. Is nonobjective art something everyone understands? Or, is nonobjective art something that is not understood by the vast majority of society? And, why the need to create nonobjective art in the first place? Quickly, I would like to attempt to answer the first question firmly for myself. I understand nonobjective art insofar as it is more about an experience than it is about definitive understanding. So yes, everyone has an experience when they look at a nonobjective work of art, whether it be positive or negative. And if I may attempt to further shed light on the matter for you, I would like to offer this example: nonobjective painting has often been compared to that of an orchestral composition or to that of music without words. The narrative, if there is one to be found, is not immediately descriptive of the external world of objects just like music without words has no immediate story line. Yet, in turn, admittedly or not, I do believe that most individuals are capable of receiving satisfaction from nonobjective artwork and associations may occur that do remind one of the external world.
Understood by most or not, nonobjective art, surprisingly, does have a very important social role and is also surprisingly related to the external world of feeling. Paintings themselves are objects to begin with. Just as one can figuratively feel another’s body through the act of seeing one feels a nonobjective painting. The experience is even more like minded if the painting is of human scale. And this act of seeing and feeling is an important role and goal, I believe, of nonobjective art. It fulfills the acutely sensitive needs of those feeling members of society. The difficulty and conundrum of the nonobjective artist, is the seemingly common situation of his antisocial attitudes. Just as Robert Motherwell stated in 1950, nonobjective art “has social implications, which might be summarized under the general notion of protest: of protest of what goes on, of protest against the suppression of feeling” in day to day life. In short, the nonobjective artist rebels against society’s notion of the tough guy or conqueror and heralds instead the need for heartfelt and soulful emotional expressions. And often, to accomplish these expressions, it makes sense that the artist isolates himself within the controlled boundaries of the studio in order that he or she may express their innermost self more clearly. Away from the hardened attitudes of everyday survival, the habitual struggle, the artist, being somewhat of a mystic, can exert sensitivity and personal emotion onto the canvas. For me, it is an expression of joy in living. And primarily, it is about the joys and excitement of living within the studio; positive emotion manifested and expressed without distraction. The Six Dusts This interests me very much: as written centuries ago, translated in 1967 by Philip B. Yampolsky from the original manuscript Tun-Huang of China orated, “What are the eighteen realms of sense? They are the six dusts, the six gates, and the six consciousnesses. What are the twelve entrances? Externally they are the six dusts; internally they are the six gates. What are the six dusts? They are sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and idea. What are the six gates? They are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Dharma-nature gives rise to the six conciousnesses— seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking—as well as the six gates and the six dusts.” I love this. From the beginning—it would seem in that Chinese thought there were six senses—including idea, what Buddhism referred to as the sixth dust in order of Huang’s oration. In turn giving rise to the sixth gate—mind, and to the sixth consciousness, thinking, which in turn is internal and external, I assume, given the dualistic nature of the translation above. Though, in turn internal and external are one. Just as in my experience of listening to the recordings of Buddhist monks’ chants the internal manifests: itself.
Three Poles of Creation Let us consider three poles of creation: realism, the abstract, and the nonobjectiveâ€”all of which are abstract to some degree: At base consideration, realism strives to record visual phenomena as it appears in the world. It may position the illusion of lifelike things and objects around the canvas to create allegory, irony, and metaphor. It specializes in the art of storytelling and provides clarity for narrative. The abstract takes that which may be observed and skews or deforms it into unreal realms of possibility, furthering the viewer to question the unknown. Its stories and presentations succumb nearly entirely to metaphor due to their unclear narratives. Nonobjective art utilizes the imaginative arrangements of unknown shapes and forms to create visual experiences not previously understood by the real world thereby providing the most strenuous examination of visual realities. Nonobjective art is foremost the art of visual perception; yet, it too is capable of metaphor just as color and mark-making alone can reflect the tempo of thought and life. Truth Between fact and fiction there is truth. Fiction, I hope, serves to describe the polarity from fact. Fiction contains truth as does fact. But there is an Enormous Truth that is in-between, passed over, frequently, by us. Honesty is different than truth. Honesty is about not telling a lie. Truth, to me, is about the bigger picture. If we could live in this middle-ground we speak of, better off our lives would be. Truth goes beyond what is known. We (It) grapple(s) with the known and the unknown, a happy middle-ground, if one may go somewhat undistracted in their pursuit of truth. Weakness and Strength Socially, strength is commonly viewed as having a good defense: controlling oneâ€™s emotions, appearing unaffected, unmoved, and unchanged by others. In reality it is the emotionally restrained who are brittle. To expose our softer side is true strength, an allowance of vulnerability and risk. Who doesnâ€™t recognize the instability of ice and the flexibility of water? Fine Art: A Definition An invention that by context or design stimulates one or more of the senses, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, and is created out of personal need, esp. not out of the original intent to meet external demands, such as the needs of a client, patron, benefactor, museum, or gallery: of significant emotional and intellectual transport.
Poetic Experience and Understanding â€” Happiness Not even there there is just cause For, in my heart is a worm eating at me The sweat wiped from just above my brow is amazing I go forward like this blindly with motion on my side And all my days I go on like this knowing not what I do But what I say, for, I am gay Honesty One must forgive all One thanks a thousand million times Says please, welcome, and goodbye to be better I will not tell you it comes effortlessly But I will tell you not to lie Twonement In this moment I am writing, not thinking, doing. I am an insect or a bird. Now I will show, then, be like something else, perhaps a song? Sweet is the sound of the keys tapping, a bird, indeed, a bird.
(29) Twonism XIII: Monika, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Spring Vine The buds on the vine await to bloom and then to fall. I do not question this. Filial Piety Too much and undone are the evil doings For, there is no such thing as too much One goes on this way And forever is the path of filial forgiveness The Way is Broad My sister and brother have you forgotten The path is wider and longer Narrow and short only in your mind In reality Twonism is good Thought on Painting to a Prospective Student Mind itself is painting and order. It shows itself in the structure. Let the heart guide you then. When there is no mind, painting is difficult. It goes this way and it goes that way, the painting, never knowing when and where to stop. The heart is nowhere and everywhere, then. Both states, with mind and without mind, with heart and without heart, are bound to arise. With mind and with heart is best. Sometimes one waits for order, other times one wills it. Waiting is better, no aggression, but willing it forces a discipline. When forced, the mind knows forced order and the heart is stale. Understanding the hard way comes from this. No aggression is best. You will eventually find out that it is a mistake in life to force anything. Either way, willed or waiting, one goes forward having known mistakes and successes. The painting, eventually, is free.
Realization, Being, and Oneness So many years outside the call of a bird. To think and to be is different, this is realization. To be one and to speak to a bird, this is not nonsense. I once believed it crazy, but now we are an entity perceiving. Observational Poem Many hammers pounding in circadian rhythm along the sides of an apartment building. Ocean waves crest the rock face. The wheel of the mind is turning. Step off of the wheel, no need. Particularly when it is early morning and one recalls the pleasant sound of the cicada call. Mid-Summer will arrive before we know. Unless, of course, one keeps the rhythm â€”then, Summer will cease to be shocking and abrasive, more like, wanted, expected, and soothing. Followers Should you find the way heavy, and peace of mind but a distant chord in the moonlight, I say, fling it all to the floor. Bundle up your sentient desires, passions, and frivolous activities, and set them on a course out to sea, away from you! Should you find Twonism a mere frivolity of mind, then, I say, fling it to the floor! Listen only to your longings and do away with influence. Otherwise, take it in, and be at rest.
(30) Twonism XIV: Matt, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
(31) Twonism XV: The Gun, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Where East Meets West There is No Division Here, East meets West. The mind dances ancient and modern. The Law existed and exists. Before the beginning and the end, The Law was The Way. I will try to define The Law. “When up move forward, when down move forward.” You see, there is no backward or sideways or diagonal or straight. Stagnation is nothing and everything at once, but a word. There is only moving forward. The coward who commits worldly crime, it is hard to perceive, I know, but he too moves only forward, for justice will be upon him at once. The Law is shared by the many—the idea— to be one with The Law. The Law is The Way. On the Transmission of Ancient Ways The way comes from the east; I transmit it west. Medium light in the studio. Outside a bird sings; stweet, stweet, stweet. How lovely the sound. A Sober Mind A sober mind is best. One to see the truth. I understand that debauchery makes friends easily, but choose wisely those friends made upon escape. A light heart is gained this way. You may think these words heavy, but I assure you they are not false. A light heart. One to see the moonlight clearly, without haze before the eyes. To see the sun clearly in the East as it does rise. An empty mind to perceive the West where it sets only for a day. This is life. Some say we die a thousand deaths before the real one, and that may be true for some, but I, with empty 71
mind only die once and this I take to my grave for a mere moment before resurrection, as is said of dry bones – rise again. With pure heart and mind having lived once, I shall, as a child, live out again and again a life of innocence, having banished the bad deeds. And with the world at my feet, I lean down to touch her. From her heart I feel the sound of a thousand horses galloping, a hundred frogs jumping, ten snails slowly wandering, and am returned to the soil. And there I lie – at the heart of it all, with the sun upon me. The Mind’s Eye I have seen the circle in my mind’s eye It represents much It goes and goes never ceasing to stop Twonism is like this, except, one goes slow, then slower, then stops. Like a wheel on a device, you control your mind. Is reproduction the only way? It is not. To see this aspect clearly is attainment of a fundamental truth. In life we are given choices. We have time to think and to feel. Be one. Then choose, when you are ready. Your answer will fall to you from the sky and clear as the heat beneath your foot let it guide you home.
(32) Twonism XVI: The Mind’s Eye, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” diameter
Balance My most effortless paintings capture a bit of balance. I cannot explain the exact arrangements that cause this experience, only that the feeling is there and not to be described but witnessed. Neither symmetry nor any formal analyses contains it. The clues are constantly shifting within the mind and senses while making and viewing. Balance is not merely an aesthetic concern or act. It is not simply a mathematics or science of composition and color, nor is it a paradigmatic exercise of logic and reasoned thought. It is a momentary state of mind and being that successful artworks provide. We stand before these works in awe and are pleasured by an absolute contradiction between the paintings and our difficulty to sustain balanced life moments. Upon completion each painting is resolved â€“ We progress. Material It would seem the world has stripped me of possessions. I have what I need. The way is close at hand, very little to lose. A few books, a few ramblings, a few designs; this is all I have, and each is close to my heart.
Small Voices Some get nicer and some get meaner with age Who’s to say why except those who don’t learn from their mistakes Who’s to say why except those who learn and learn and learn You choose who it is you want to be Do you want to keep up with the crass intellects of competition Or, do you want to slow down with the beauty of perfection You choose which path Maybe it’s in the middle Dipping and diving in and out Giving a lonesome whistle and then a boisterous shout And I assure you the refined tone of a smallish hum is more refined than the loudest social drum Notes on the Art of Living If one is honest at all junctures, Humble in his mistakes, Forgiving unto those who judge him, Sorry for what he has done, Rebounds in strength, There should be no need for warfare. The art of war undermines the enemy, Specializes in deception, Causes one to be confused, Therefore vulnerable to attack. Know thyself first, Understand your mind and avoid all possible circumstances wherein confusion may arise and you will go unbeaten. There will be no need for warfare then. It is not a matter of offense and defense. It is a matter of knowing the entire playing field. Slowly and quietly understand the unknowns. Permeate with wisdom, befriend everyone, except when weak. When weak retreat to your personal kingdom and regain strength. When emotionally exhausted befriending anyone is difficult, One lacks the strength to counter with positivity the negative. Forgiveness, this is the way to understanding another’s circumstantial negativity. Therefore, when weak, stay at home. Cater to the domestic life and welcome family.
The art of war should not be employed in life if one should master the art of living. Keep to the art of living. The art of living is more than survival, yet those who keep to the art of living survive. To engage in warfare is to tempt death, you will be beaten eventually. Life will be enough, one’s own mistakes will be enough. To engage in other’s mistakes is not our duty. Forgiveness is ours to have and to hold. Do your best to avoid other’s personal problems and help with a positive mindset when engaged. On a Saturday Morning In this modern world I stand outside I hear the grown of a young girl Saying, “I can’t google anything!” Parenting is hard I am permeated by the environment A magnificent blue sky The environment in me Takes a turn The dumpster’s imprint The car to my left These things bereft of their own meaning And me standing, listening, communicating The blue sky is nearly all encompassing I stand outside and am permeated The birds are playing talking seeking too They love And consul Are quieted for a moment In turn I see over a cloud, behind it Blue skies forever if you look hard and quiet That’s what I do The Walls that Guide Me In this world I pound up against and with the walls that guide me Sometimes crashing through At other times feeling my way carefully hand on brick and mortar Fortunately more calloused are my hands than not For, the crashing I mostly leave to others And stray from the holes they’ve left But, it is impossible to sometimes not trip on the rubble 76
Always a robber of some solid ground here lurking about So instead of stumbling I go along with shovel, wooden broom, and wheel barrow as to clear the way for future generations But I am no saint here either I just prefer a slow and steady route So, on days such as these the others can go around me Unless, of course, they would rather prefer to be rid of my speed altogether In which case they will fight and I will not And therein lies a bigger problem One that has stifled cultures and kingdoms and matriarchies from the beginning of time And I will continue to work at this problem until my hands are tied or my head cutoff or I am sitting in a lone chamber somewhere Anyway, I will go on pounding the walls that guide me The Grey There’s a color that winter can’t touch On the days that summer is neither enough Deep, deep, deep down the seasons don’t even pervade A color as beautiful as something homemade A stew of solitude and bliss Not even a kiss could compare to this Not the Raven nor the flame Not the upper-class or the poor could name What’s inside a stew by this name For the kettle is cast iron and made Of steel second grade Not first and not third but second and paid For with the debt and the doubt With the web and the clout With the store bought shout Of middle-class America And it’s a real person’s game And the dealers and the winners all came And the upper-deck was filled with shame And the lower with fame But the middle-deck was tame And calm The air was not sooty or milky but balm And the shout this time was gone 77
And all the winners were not right but wrong And all the losers then got strong And both then joined the middle And viewed the game together in throng And not God and not the Devil could stay for long Because civility had sung its song! Understanding Prayer, it doesn’t work for me. I pray and I pray and it does nothing except sooth my fantasy that there isn’t a God. That’s ok on some days, but most days it doesn’t work lately. The Gods, the real Gods in this world, to me, were the painters of yester year. They knew so much. And in perception, with a slowing down, you may hear them in some empty room. Frighteningly coherent with their voices, And with their echoed gestures embodied by me. With painting and in life it is this way with me. And it is our freedom to live how we want. It is in my discipline of painting that I perceive a God. Love embodies us. A Song of Greyness In this morning light I rise. Amidst a song of darkness, I rise. Because the hammer and nail can wait. Because your heart is what matters to me— so into the darkness I will not slip once more—In time, we will blend. You will come up to meet me, and into the light you shall see again. And my vision might deepen then. And you may laugh a song of lightness... But, together, we shall rise as grey ghosts! And the people will soften then. Never having imagined such an apparition. Such a combination of goodness and darkness— Of purity. Of joy and evil. Of day and night. 78
And we will not know what to call it, this delightful fright, this pleasant Frankenstein! For the naming of things will have disappeared, And unity might prevail then. And the armies will regaleâ€”then, in solitude. And all of our attitudes fixed, in ambiguous characterâ€Ś on the Sun!
(33) Twonism XVII: Ugliness, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism Works on Paper
(34) Untitled 1, 2015, Acrylic, Ink, and Flashe on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(35) Untitled 2, 2015, Acrylic and Ink on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(36) Untitled 3, 2015, Acrylic, Ink, and Flashe on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(37) Untitled 4, 2015, Oil and Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(38) Untitled 5, 2015, Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(39) Untitled 6, 2015, Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
(40) Untitled 10, 2016, Soft Pastel on Paper, 20” x 14”
(41) Untitled 12, 2016, Soft Pastel on Paper, 20” x 14”
(42) Untitled 14, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 24” x 18”
(43) Untitled 16, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 24” x 18”
(44) Untitled 18, 2016, Gouache and Soft Pastel on Paper, 30” x 11 ¼”
(45) Untitled 33, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 20” x 14”
(46) Untitled 34, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
(47) Untitled 35, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
(48) Untitled 36, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
(49) Untitled 38, 2016, Ink and Acrylic on Paper, 14” x 10”
Conclusion â€” It is my sincerest hope that you have enjoyed Twonism. That it has prompted you to think and to feel deeper about what I do and what we do as artists in this world. The thoughts, essays, and poems are here for you to cherish as findings in a long process that is an artistic career. It was my intention from the start to publish my discoveries, some day. Just know that an all-inclusive manner of presentation minus the experience of seeing the artwork in person isnâ€™t an all-inclusive manner of seeing at all. Should you desire to reach the deepest meaning of my work, and of those whom I discuss in the writings, I urge you to seek out the paintings in person, followed (once again) by the text. This is the ideal circumstance of encountering Twonism. Some of you might find this to be of high expectation but I assure you that high expectation is the office I hold, that we hold, as painters in this world. It was not on a marble floor that Twonism was built and likewise not on a dirt floor, but upon a dirty marble floor one might say. Ambiguity is strength. This, my friends, I hope is clear above all in this world that we live in so abstractly. Let thoughts be unknown at times, then, let clarity reach you in moments of inspiration as the sage sits in the wind undistracted and open, let friends be welcomed at all times, and live your lives to their fullest imaginative states of being.
Artist Bio — Mr. Freed began his art studies at State Fair Community College, and then received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York City, where he graduated with honors. His M.F.A. is from Hunter College, City University of New York. He teaches Drawing I, II, III, Design I, and Color and Design at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and teaches Art Appreciation at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. Mr. Freed has been represented by galleries in Saint Louis, Kansas City, and New York City. His most recent solo exhibitions include ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Obstacle and Void’ at the Bruno David Gallery in Saint Louis, ‘Four Point Perspective’ at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, and ‘Cadence’ at the Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art gallery in Kansas City.
(50) Studio Portrait, 2015
Exhibitions — Solo Exhibitions 2017 Damon Freed: Landscapes—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis (catalogue) 2015 Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis (catalogue with essay by Tanya Hartman) 2014 Damon Freed: Four Point Perspective—Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia 2012 Damon Freed: En Plein Air—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis (catalogue with essay by Kara Gordon and poems by Damon Freed) 2012 Damon Freed: Grid Games—Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff 2012 Damon Freed: Cadence—Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City 2011 Damon Freed: Life Saver—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis (catalogue with essay by Kara Gordon and poems by Damon Freed) 2009 Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis (catalogue with essay by Nancy Weant and studio notes by Damon Freed)
Group Exhibitions 2016 From all the Borders of Itself—Park University, Kansas City 2016 Late Summer Show—Sager Braudis Gallery, Columbia 2016 Summer Invitational—Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City 2015 In Good Company—Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City 2014 Paperworks—Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia 2013 Summer Invitational—Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City 2012 Blue, White, and Red—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis 2012 December Group Show—Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia 2012 October Group Show—Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia 2010 Project Room Overview—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis 2009 OVER_VIEW 09—Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis 2009 Gallery Selections: Small Scale Works—Tobey Fine Arts, New York 2006 Correspondence to a Single Point: A Survey of Geometric Abstraction—Tobey Fine Arts, New York 2006 Hum—curated by Shinsuke Aso—Tobey Fine Arts, New York 2003 The Wild Bunch—curated by Tim Rollins—White Box Gallery, New York
Bibliography Lyons, Andy—“Sedalia Painter Opening Exhibition in Saint Louis Next Week”, Central MO News (centralmonews.net), January 6, 2017 Tanya Hartman—“Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition Catalogue, 2015 Bemiss, Faith—“SFCC art instructors show variety of work at Daum”, Sedalia Democrat, October 3rd, 2014 Bemiss, Faith—“How Paperworks”, Sedalia Democrat, July 19-20, 2014 Kara Gordan—“Damon Freed: En Plein Air”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition Catalogue, 2012 Baran, Jessica—“Life Saver at Bruno David Gallery”, Riverfront Times, December 15, 2011 Cooper, Ivy—“Winter Wondering at Bruno David Gallery”, St. Louis Beacon, December 5, 2011 Kara Gordan—“Damon Freed: Life Saver”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition Catalogue, 2011 Gordon, Kara—“Calibration”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2011 Siegel, Kyle—“SNJ Community Profile”, Sedalia News Journal, September 6, 2011 Cooper, Ivy—“Damon Freed” St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2009 Baran, Jessica—“Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent”, Riverfront Times, March 25, 2009 Weant, Nancy—“Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2009 Nail, Sarah—“Easy on the Eyes”, Sedalia Democrat, September 18, 2008
Index of Images — 1.
Inner Chapter I: Unchanging, 2006-16, Oil, Flashe, and Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Missouri: Final Version, 2008, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Love, 2010, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
ME, 2010, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Live Saver, 2010, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 21” x 21”
Terminal Painting, 2012, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 63” x 63”
Double Chroma, 2013, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Requited Love, 2013, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Symbol #11, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas, 21” x 21”
Universe Diagram, 2014
Obstacle And Void II, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Apex, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 72” x 72”
Nonobjective #19, 2014, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 34” x 34”
Nonobjective #32, 2015, Acrylic and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism I: The Psychology of Color, 2015-16, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism I: The Psychology of Color Diagram, 2015-16
Twonism II: Endurance, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism III: Completeness of the Conscious and Unconscious Personalities, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 108” x 36”
Twonism IV: Sensitive, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism V: The Child, 2015, Oil, Acrylic, Flashe, and Paint Marker on Canvas, 47” x 47”
Twonism VI: Empty, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism VII: Full, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 48” x 48”
Twonism VIII: Beauty, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60”x 60”
Twonism IX: Prettiness, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism X: The Beautiful Night, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism XI: A Bright Day, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism XII: Love Letter, 2016, Oil, Acrylic, and Cold Wax Medium on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Twonism XIII: Monika, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Twonism XIV: Matt, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Twonism XV: The Gun, 2016, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Twonism XVI: The Mind’s Eye, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 72” diameter
Twonism XVII: Ugliness, 2016, Oil, Cold Wax Medium, Acrylic, and Flashe on Canvas, 60” x 60”
Untitled 1, 2015, Acrylic, Ink, and Flashe on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 2, 2015, Acrylic and Ink on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 3, 2015, Acrylic, Ink, and Flashe on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 4, 2015, Oil and Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 5, 2015, Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 6, 2015, Acrylic on Paper, 41” x 29 ½”
Untitled 10, 2016, Soft Pastel on Paper, 20” x 14”
Untitled 12, 2016, Soft Pastel on Paper, 20” x 14”
Untitled 14, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 24” x 18”
Untitled 16, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 24” x 18”
Untitled 18, 2016, Gouache and Soft Pastel on Paper, 30” x 11 ¼”
Untitled 33, 2016, Gouache on Paper, 20” x 14”
Untitled 34, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
Untitled 35, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
Untitled 36, 2016, Ink on Paper, 30” x 22”
Untitled 38, 2016, Ink and Acrylic on Paper, 14” x 10”
Studio Portrait, 2015
Published on Oct 31, 2017
Published on Oct 31, 2017
This book is my first publication of writings in the form of thoughts, essays, and poems on art and life. The fully illustrated book is my f...